direct-to-consumer brands

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Why Traditional Brands Are Moving To DTC Model

Online shopping has forever changed people’s expectations of their shopping experience. A new breed of branding has emerged, with a compelling business model that lets customers and brands work together without a retail middleman standing in the way.

Known as the direct-to-consumer (DTC) model, it’s dramatically changing how people shop. This includes offering products that many might not have considered buying online before.

For example, a few years ago, the idea of buying a mattress online was unheard of. It was one of those products people really wanted to feel and try out in-person. Even more, they would certainly not buy a mattress from a brand they’ve never heard of, like Purple. Yet, this market has become crowded with online mattress companies that deliver straight to consumers with extended try me-buy me options and easy returns.

The DTC model has generated an interest in subscription services for a wide range of products. This includes curated monthly boxes that surprise and delight customers. For example, NatureBox delivers healthy snacks each month to subscribers, making it convenient to make better food choices, including options that align with current dietary regimens.

Then, there are there are what I call the “well-known pioneers” to the DTC landscape like Warby Parker, Away and Dollar Shave Club. Their success has inspired countless start-ups, selling everything from bedding to socks directly to consumers.

The DTC Model Goes Mainstream

Although born online, the DTC model is finding other ways to change the retail environment, with many companies planning to “expand their physical presence through pop-up shops, storefronts or placement deals at big-box retailers," according to a post on Marketing Dive. "Over the next five years, former DTC pure-players are forecast to build out 850 brick-and-mortar stores, per commercial real estate firm JLL.”

Now, more established brands are also seeing value in getting into the DTC game. For example, companies like Nike are expanding their DTC model because they see it as a way to provide customers with the experience they are seeking from brands, furthering consumer relationships while continuing to collect important data to further inform their marketing strategy.

Evenflo Dives Into DTC

And, Nike is not the only brand doing so. If you’re unfamiliar, Evenflo is a brand that has been around for almost 100 years as a manufacturer and marketer of infant and juvenile products.

The company will be breaking with tradition for the launch of its new smart car seat line, Evenflo Gold, by offering it exclusively DTC at www.EvenfloGold.com. The new premium line will cater to the modern, digitally savvy parent with elevated designs and app-enabled SensorSafe safety technology.

Amber Stepper, vice president of marketing at Evenflo, noted that “the company has evolved many times over its 100 year history, and developing the Evenflo Gold brand as a DTC model is the next step in that journey.

“With many of our consumers already purchasing online, launching Evenflo Gold using a DTC model just made sense.”

Evenflo also realized that it would take some effort to help customers feel comfortable with the DTC model.  “Since our customers wouldn’t have the opportunity to interact with Evenflo Gold products in-store, we have built the Evenflo Gold website in a way that brings the products to life and provides access to the customer service team so parents feel supported when purchasing and using these products,”  said Stepper. She added that Evenflo also  eliminated complex messaging and rethought packaging design to simplify the experience.  

Lessons Learned

The DTC model is not replacing the traditional retail model. However, it is offering a unique opportunity for a wide range of products to get new attention, and help existing brands achieve more sales through the ever-growing online space.

The lesson here is that you don’t need to complicate the experience; if anything, keep it as simple and straightforward as possible. Focus on specific customer needs, open channels of communication and support, and find new ways to showcase products that generate excitement for your audience.

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