According to the Instant Pot website, this “intelligent multi-cooker, [is] capable of completely replacing [a] pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker/porridge maker, sauté/browning pan, steamer, yogurt maker and stockpot warmer.”
Currently one of Amazon’s best selling items, Instant Pot has a huge online fan base. With an official community site on Facebook boasting more than 434K members and a number of satellite communities (e.g. Instant Pot Recipes with 122K members and Instant Pot Cooks with 60K members), the Instant Pot is an internet sensation.
That said, it may be surprising to find out that Instant Pot is not a brand new product . According to Grace Hwang Lynch in her article Not Just a Crock: The Viral Word-Of-Mouth Success of Instant Pot, the electric pressure cooker “has been around since 2010, but really became the buzz during the last six months of 2016.”
Let’s take a look at the clever social media strategy that created all that buzz.
© Jiwei Wang, www.bbc.com. Retrieved from "How the Instant Pot cooker developed a cult following" on March 24, 2017
The Ottawa based company behind Instant Pot was founded by a group of three engineers in 2008, and the first model entered the market in 2010. In her article From Ottawa to world domination: the story of the ‘Instant Pot’, author Jackie Dunham describes how the team focused on designing the appliance’s microprocessor and thermal and pressure sensors, which improved safety over earlier stove top and electric pressure cookers. She quotes CEO Robert Wang as saying, “Our belief was that if we built the best product, the product would speak for itself.”
Dunham goes on to say that Wang and his co-founders “were savvy enough to realize, however, that cooking is traditionally a social event and that many cooks love to share their favourite recipes and methods with their family and friends. With that in mind, the Ottawa-based company sent a couple hundred cookers to prominent food and lifestyle bloggers to let them try it for themselves.”
This tactic is referred to as influencer marketing, a form of marketing that identifies key individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and focuses marketing activities on those individuals rather than the target market as a whole.
By 2013, Instant Pot was outselling all other pressure cookers available on Amazon with an average 4.7 star rating and enthusiastic reviews. The online buzz was propagated through blog posts by Instant Pot aficianados, Facebook communities trading Instant Pot recipes, and people posting Instant Pot videos to YouTube. Bloggers and YouTubers often provided affiliate links through which their followers could purchase their own Instant Pot, further driving sales of what was rapidly becoming a ‘cooking cult’.
© The Cents'Able Shopping, www.thecentsableshoppin.com. Retrieved from Why I LOVE My Instant Pot on March 24, 2017
In 2016, Instant Pot leveraged its impressive social network to spread word of the deep discount that was being offered on the multi-cooker on Amazon Prime Day and again on Black Friday. On Prime Day alone, 215,000 Instant Pots were sold online, making it Amazon’s top-selling product in the US market.
In the article When Brand Communities Become Cults, Maclyn Sinear describes how these sales played a role in turning skeptic Purnima Thakre into an Instant Pot enthusiast. Thakre, an amateur chef and food blogger, had initially joined a Facebook group for Instant Pot Indian Cooking when it popped up in her Facebook suggestions. She says she joined out of curiosity and had no intention of buying an Instant Pot.
“I just got so hooked on it only from the discussions. It’s like a cult,” Thakre says. “People in the group talk about their Instant Pots as if it’s their lover, and how it has changed their life.” When the Instant Pot went on sale on Amazon on Cyber Monday, Thakre took the opportunity to purchase one for herself.
Her experience was not unique. Jackie Dunham describes how Sheryl Jesin was “bombarded” with text messages from a friend telling her about the delicious meals she was making using her Instant Pot. When it was marked down from $130 to $69 for Black Friday, Jesin’s friend said, “If you don’t buy this today, I’m going to buy it for you.” So Jesin bought one. Three months later, the Toronto mother of three created a Facebook group that shares healthy recipes for the Instant Pot.
Thanks to this kind of viral marketing via social media, the future looks bright for Instant Pot. In an interview with Laura Robin of the Ottawa Citizen, Robert Wang of Instant Pot had this to say: “We haven’t had to do any marketing. Retailers come to us. We expect in the next year to more than double or triple sales.”
Lessons for Others
When you have a great product that can be used for activities that tend to be social by nature (e.g. cooking, crafts, sports, etc.), there is no overstating the potential benefits of influencer marketing through social media.
Distributing your product to bloggers, YouTubers, and others with substantial numbers of followers among your target market gives you the opportunity to expose your product in a positive light to customers. These same customers may have been very expensive to reach through more traditional marketing channels (e.g. trade shows, print and television advertising), if they could be reached at all.
Furthermore, many of these key influencers use their social media channels to take advantage of affiliate links, which provide them with commission while making it easy for their followers to purchase your product, thereby driving online sales.
A recent article appearing on www.inc.com sports the headline, “In 2017 Influencer Marketing Is About To Go Through The Roof.” The subhead asks a question your organization should consider moving forward: “What’s your influencer marketing strategy?”
Instant Pot Company
Industry: Online retail (electric pressure cooker)
Name of Organization Contact: Robert Wang, CEO
Authored by: Anna Borenstein
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
instantpot.com (2017). Tools for a New Lifestyle. Retrieved from http://instantpot.com
Hwang Lynch, G. (2017). Not Just A Crock: The Viral Word-Of-Mouth Success of Instant Pot. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/01/18/509675621/not-just-a-crock-the-viral-word-of-mouth-success-of-instant-pot
Dunham, J. (2017). From Ottawa to world domination: the story of the ‘Instant Pot’. Retrieved from http://www.ctvnews.ca/lifestyle/from-ottawa-to-world-domination-the-story-of-the-instant-pot-1.3319793
Cole, N. (2017). In 2017 Influencer Marketing Is About To Go Through The Roof. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/nicolas-cole/in-2017-influencer-marketing-is-about-to-go-through-the-roof.html
Robin, L. (2016). The Instant Pot, invented in Ottawa, is the hottest multi-cooker in kitchens. Retrieved from http://ottawacitizen.com/life/food/the-instant-pot-invented-in-ottawa-is-the-hottest-multi-cooker-in-kitchens
Murphy, J. (2017). How the Instant Pot cooker developed a cult following. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/business-39058736
Senear, M. (2017). When Brand Communities Become Cults – Lessons from Instant Pot’s Social Media Success. Retrieved from http://refineandfocus.com/when-brand-communities-become-cults-lessons-from-instant-pots-social-media-success/