How Brands Are Putting Unicorns to Good Use

June 19th, 2015

Partnering with unicorn startups can be good for business, no matter what space your brand or brand clients are in.

Unicorns are some of the most buzzed-about companies in the mainstream media, which means that whatever they do — good or bad — is pretty much guaranteed to get attention. Perhaps, more importantly, they have a certain scale and maturity that makes them savvier partners than the startups that are just getting their footing.

Whole Foods began partnering with grocery delivery startup Instacart last September to offer one-hour delivery and in-store pickup to customers across 15 major cities in the US, including San Francisco, Boston, Washington, DC, Houston and Los Angeles.

The five-month pilot program proved to be successful, with Whole Foods’ average weekly online delivery sales surpassing $1 million, so it’s no wonder why that partnership is still in tact. Even more, the basket sizes online were 2.5 times higher than in-store.

Meanwhile, traditional broadcasting company FOX and beer brand Budweiser are also looking to unicorns to connect with consumers.

To celebrate Halloween last year, Fox enlisted car-hailing startup Lyft to offer “Sleepy Hollow”-themed Lyft rides on Halloween. In New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles, select Lyft riders were picked up in decked-out vintage Rolls-Royce Phantoms and 1961 Bentleys.

During last year’s holiday season, Budweiser teamed up with Lyft to offer first-time passengers free rides to ensure they got home safely from parties. Meanwhile, American Express enables its cardholders to redeem their reward points through Uber.

Spotify, the music streaming startup, has also proven to be an attractive unicorn partner for brands. In May, Starbucks announced that Spotify would become the music provider for its 7,000 locations nationwide. The deal is part of Starbucks’ bigger move to reinvent the way its customers discover new music.