DTC Brands: No Longer Just A Cool Story And Purpose

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, March 22, 2019

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are here to stay, and the term doesn’t just apply to digital natives. Any brand that wants to truly meet the demanding needs of changing consumers should have a DTC strategy. 

The lines are blurring as digitally native brands use traditional strategies to grow, while heritage brands are rebuilding their business models to create meaningful connections. To achieve DTC success, here are some things brands should consider: 

Made For Me

DTC brands are no longer just about a cool story and purpose. Brands are betting on customization — and winning. Those that understand how to create products that go beyond a market fit to one that also fits the sales channel will succeed, allowing consumers to come to a brand experience and specify their exact wants and needs versus sifting through the shelves at a brick and mortar destination. 

Brands can learn from Nike’s success with the customization model — it’s allowing them to tap into micro-communities with similar passion. 



Let’s Band Together

DTC brands and retailers are a perfect match and need each other to grow. Retailers have the physical spaces for consumers to discover new brands, while DTCs make them more relevant. Retail and DTC partnerships are on the rise. Nordstrom President Erik Nordstrom recently emphasized the importance of these programs in stores, which has included capsule collections with brands like Greats and Lively. At big industry retail events like NRF’s Big Show and Shoptalk, there was a common thread of “we need each other to survive." 

Old School Is New

Many DTC brands are no longer startups, but are entering their growth years and can no longer rely on digital acquisition and paid social media. The next phase of growth will come from deploying old-school tactics like direct mail, OTT media and moving into brick and mortar via popups and stores. Done correctly, each of these tactics adds new layers of learnings. 

Embrace Emerging Tech 

New tech is emerging to enhance the in-store and online experience – whether its digital shelves, inventory-counting robots, facial recognition payment or shopping with voice or via imagery. We’ll definitely see more players stepping into these areas and changing the way people shop – whether it’s through AI, VR, AR, Voice or otherwise.  

To succeed in today’s retail environment, marketers must constantly reinvent business models to more easily meet the demanding needs of the empowered consumer, find partners to identify joint sources of growth, have a deep understanding of their core customer and future growth audiences and always stay on the bleeding edge of technology and innovation.

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