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It’s rare that the end of summer brings news about ice cream availability getting wider, but that’s the case in a partnership announced on Thursday.
Unilever is expanding an on-demand ice cream delivery service nationwide through a new partnership with grocery tech company Instacart.
With a wide variety of brands in its freezer, Unilever says it is the world’s largest ice cream company. To offer delivery, it launched The Ice Cream Shop, an app-based delivery service available in major metro areas that has grown via partnership.
“We’re thrilled that our new partnership with Instacart expands The Ice Cream Shop’s virtual storefront to a nationwide scale,” said Daan Westdijk, heads of sales and category strategy for North American ice cream at Unilever. “Since 2018, The Ice Cream Shop has offered convenient delivery to ice cream fans in major cities including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and now thanks to our expanded partnership with Instacart, we can build upon our vision of delivering smiles to even more doorsteps across the US.”
The Ice Cream Shop will be accessible through Instacart’s grocery delivery platform. Shoppers can browse flavors from brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Good Humor, Klondike, Magnum ice cream, Popsicle and Talenti. The flavors can also be sorted by categories, such as best sellers, chocolate & vanilla or chunks & swirls.
Now that it is available through Instacart, The Ice Cream Shop’s service area will extend throughout the United States, as ice cream is delivered to customers from nearby locations. Delivery, which will be executed through Instacart's team and logistics, is available in as little as 30 minutes, according to the companies.
The Ice Cream Shop on Instacart's app. (Courtesy of Unilever)
It’s the latest delivery innovation for The Ice Cream Shop, which aims to sweeten the experience for online grocery shoppers by bringing ice cream to a customer’s door without letting it melt, and make the road to delivery of frozen goods less rocky in the process.
Earlier this summer, The Ice Cream Shop launched a pilot in Los Angeles to deliver ice cream through the mobile convenience store service Robomart that deployed mobile convenience trucks carrying ice cream to customer doorsteps. In a digital update to the typical ice cream truck experience, shoppers were able to swipe to open the truck and pick out their ice cream.
The ice cream was flown to customers in a separate pilot. In North Carolina and Texas, Unilever teamed with the drone delivery service Flytrex to ferry pints to customers’ backyards in under three minutes.
Delivery via Robomart and drone will not be available to customers that order through Instacart. However, a spokesperson said The Ice Cream Shop team remains excited about those delivery options and continues to look for new, innovative ways to shorten delivery time and increase availability of the ice cream it offers.
Perhaps the most pertinent recent development to this partnership was a new feature that launched on the Instacart platform in recent weeks. With the introduction of Carts, the company said it was rolling out a push to transform the platform into an experience that is fueled by inspirational shopping. Carts allow users to shop from the grocery orders of celebrities, or pick orders based on specific themes. It's one of a number of branded and shoppable experiences rolling out with partners throughout the marketplace.
This points at how Instacart is seeking to build around shoppable experiences. A feature like Carts is based around meeting customers' wants rather than needs, so it benefits from being able to deliver everyone’s favorites. It’s easy to see ice cream – and The Ice Cream Shop – mixing right into this approach. In fact, we spotted a Ben & Jerry's pint in Lizzo's Cart at launch:
(Photo courtesy of Instacart)
Trending in Brand News
The job market continues to hum.
The labor market continued to show strength to start 2023, as the monthly jobs report posted big numbers.
Key data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly jobs report:
- Unemployment fell to 3.4%, ticking down from 3.5% in December to remain at historic lows.
- The economy added jobs to the tune of 517,000, which bested the 2022 average of 401,000.
- Average hourly wages rose by $0.10, marking year-over-year growth of 4.4%.
The Current’s view: The labor market continues to be an economic outlier. While there are signs of consumer pullback and belt-tightening among tech companies and retailers after months of high inflation, the job picture remains bright. While tech companies and some retailers are cutting back markedly, there are few signs of the widespread “pain” that economists predicted in this indicator of the economy.
What brands and retailers are thinking: Jobs are a major indicator of demand, and the labor market continues to hum along. That means the consumer pullback is tied to choices about discretionary spending and holding off on certain purchases in the face of high prices, moreso than being unable to afford items altogether.
What the Fed is thinking: Here’s more evidence that a soft landing might be possible. The Fed has been raising interest rates to bring down inflation. There is risk that this will slow down the economy, including employment. There was some slowing in job growth in December, but this report indicates labor market softening still hasn’t happened for a sustained period, even as inflation is cooling. After the central bank scaled back its latest interest rate hike to 0.25% on Wednesday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said he sees a “path” to bringing down inflation without a significant rise in unemployment. Here’s one more piece of data to bolster that belief.
Keep in mind: The labor market is still out of balance between supply and demand. This report shows a big rise in jobs and the labor force participation rate remaining the same. Job openings actually increased in December, the Labor Department found. So there a still the case. Eventually, it will likely have to come into balance. But given the unpredictability of this economic era, it’s tough to know when, or even how.