D2C Brands Keep Winning New Customers

Anyone looking for more evidence that the D2C buying trend has gone mainstream needs to peek at the latest data from GfK. New research finds that 62% of U.S. consumers have tried a D2C brand in the last six months. And they intend to keep it up, with 40% saying they plan to use D2C channels more, even as COVID-19 shopping restrictions ease.

Men are significantly more likely to make a D2C purchase, at 66%, versus 58% women.

Both sexes are such big fans that 88% of those trying D2C brands for the first time said they are satisfied, and only 9% dissatisfied. Convenience leads the list of what they liked best, named by 48%; better value (37%); higher quality (36%) and “tailored to me” customization (31%.)

Dollar Shave Club, Blue Apron and Harry’s are among the brands mentioned most often. By category, 30% named clothing or fashion, 28% identified skincare products, and 26% cited food and beverage.

Younger consumers have long led the way in D2C love, and that difference continues. About 77% of those in the 18-to-35 category say they’ve switched from a traditional brand to a D2C offer in the last six months, compared to 49% of those over 51.

Based on a sample of just over 1,000 people, the study found a high level of awareness of D2C brands operating retail stores, like Warby Parker and Allbirds  -- and traditional brands, such as Nike and Pepsi, selling directly.

“We seem to have come full circle now that the pandemic has brought D2C brands mainstream,” says Joe Beier, GfK’s executive vice president of consumer insights, in its report. “The D2C players are building a physical retail footprint, seeing it as essential to their next level of growth. And traditional brands, concerned about the potential erosion of share -- particularly among the youngest shoppers -- are getting into the D2C game, either buying up brands or building D2C platforms for their existing brands.”

Interestingly, they don’t care if it's traditional brands going D2C, or the opposite, with 70% of consumers stating they “like them both equally.”

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