To say the direct to consumer (D2C) market is booming is an understatement. In 2020, forecasted D2C sales were a staggering $17.75 billion. That’s an impressive 24.3% increase compared to the year prior.
Direct to consumer products thrive in the digital marketplace and are exceedingly popular among Gen Z, millennials, and those who are deal-savvy, principled, and spend much time online.
D2C Marketing in a Nutshell
To better understand D2C marketing, you need first to understand the direct-to-consumer model. As the term implies, direct to consumer brands sell their services and products directly to consumers, forgoing online sellers and the conventional big-box stores.
Since D2C brands don’t have the backing of more prominent and more established companies, they rely primarily on the loyalty of their customers. That said, building long-term relationships with their target audience is considered a must. Contrary to popular belief, the D2C model is not new. However, it has evolved dramatically over the years.
Contemporary D2C brands like Dollar Shave Club, Casper, Warby Parker, and Glossier are wildly popular among the Gen Z demographic. These young buyers typically appreciate shared values, internet savviness, high-quality products, and authenticity.
Since D2C consumers have different expectations, direct to consumer marketers need to adjust their marketing strategies accordingly.
Best Practices for D2C Marketers
Competing with other marketers and big retailers in the DTC space is no easy feat. Fortunately, the following best practices can help set you up for success:
Create a Consistent Brand Voice
Ideally, your brand voice should reflect both your products/services and your audience. It is also crucial for your brand to have a personality—cookie-cutter calls to action, and generic ads won’t cut it.
Your brand voice should also be clear and consistent across your advertising and messaging, whether it’s social media, website, or online ads.
Authenticity goes a long way in the direct to consumer space. However, for young and more socially aware consumers, authenticity is more than just a buzzword. D2C marketing requires transparency about your business practices, brand mission, and overall values.
Here’s a good example: Allbirds, a famous footwear company, brought in over $100 million in revenue in 2019. Their mission of creating eco-friendly sneakers is evident in all their marketing materials.
The brand is also transparent about the materials they use and their sources. The strategy proved highly effective—in just five years, Allbirds reached a valuation of $1.4 billion.
Listen to Your Audience
Great D2C marketing is both responsive and empathetic. That means if your customers speak out, make sure you listen. As an example, apologize when a message misses the mark or when doubling down on popular promotions. It’s best to ensure your customers feel heard.
For instance, Glossier created the highly popular Milky Jelly cleanser in response to feedback from their customers. Henry Davis, Glossier’s CFO, summarizes their approach by saying, “We innovate and develop products to meet their needs directly because we understand what they are.”
Once you have developed your brand’s authentic voice and identified the specific needs of your audience, make sure you tie everything together with creative advertising designed to get results.
While there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for creative advertising, don’t hesitate to experiment and find the method that works best for you.
D2C is one avenue you can explore if you want your brand to remain in step with the modern world. If you opt to forego the retailers and build a strong brand on your own, direct to consumer marketing can provide a strong path forward.
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