Target's Cartwheel rewards program has for the past several years been pointed to as one of the most successful loyalty programs from a big-box retailer. Yet, late last year, Target announced that it was testing a new loyalty program called Target Circle, that would replace Cartwheel. The new loyalty program is meant to bridge the gap between Cartwheel, a digital couponing app that was free, but still geared towards diehard Target shoppers, and Red Card, Target's private label credit card.
In April, Lululemon set a five-year-strategic plan with an aggressive goal for its international business: to quadruple sales generated outside of North America by 2023. In order to do so, Lululemon is opening stores in Europe and Asia at an aggressive pace -- of the 45 to 50 stores Lululemon is projecting it will open this year, about 30 of those will be outside of North America. But it also sees hosting localized events and developing customized e-commerce sites for each country it wants to gain market share as critical to its goals.
Attribution has been a sore spot for brands, especially those that are diversifying their marketing mixes, for years. There are many different methods to figuring out attribution. One that's increasingly popular is "fractional attribution." And for so-called DTC brands, who are now diversifying their ad spend beyond Facebook and Google, they're more likely to allocate their marketing dollars based on a fractional attribution model instead of last-click or click-based attribution model.
As they grow up, direct-to-consumer startups are starting to partner more exclusive product drops, giveaways and events, all in the name of cheaper customer acquisition. While many of these partnerships are only responsible for incremental revenue, they are one of a number of ways that today's DTC brands are trying to find cheaper and more organic ways to get more people to hear about their brands.
Brick-and-mortar remains an important sales channel for any mall-based retailer, but especially those whose most frequent customers are teenagers. According to a study last year from the International Council of Shopping Centers, 95% of Gen Z shoppers visited a mall between February and April 2018, compared to 75% of millennial and 58% of Gen X shoppers.
When Dan Levitan, along with former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, launched consumer-focused venture capital fund Maveron in 1998, the pair decided on eBay as their first investment. Maveron's thesis was that technology was going to play a bigger role consumers' lives and how they buy products. At the time, that meant getting in early on marketplace startups, where customers could for the first time buy from a wide selection of products online. Today, it means that brands are able to go from "obscurity to ubiquity" in an unprecedented amount of time, thanks in large parts to investments in digital media like Facebook and Google.
In February, Target announced that it was launching a third-party marketplace called Target+ to grow its online assortment in areas like home, toys, electronics and sporting goods. At the time, Target's chief marketing and digital officer Rick Gomez said in a blog post that the marketplace was "in its earliest stages," and that Target would keep the program invite-only to focus on building curated assortment. Still, six months later, the amount of products available through Target+ remains limited.
As direct-to-consumer brands have come to dominate the new retail landscape, they've also brought with them a new set of vocabulary. Many of these terms -- CAC, LTV, AOV -- are important for any retail company, regardless of whether or not they sell directly through their website or not. But they've become increasingly important to DTC companies, particularly the ones who have taken on venture capital funding.
As the direct-to-consumer space matures, private equity brands are starting to play an increasingly heavy hand in picking category winners and losers. One of the most active private equity investors in the DTC space is L Catterton, which has taken stakes in Mizzen + Main, Peloton and Third Love. Most recently, it announced on Monday that it had invested $100 million in bedding brand Boll & Branch. Some of these DTC brands are taking on private equity because they believe it allows them to grow at a more manageable pace than if they were to take on venture capital money.
Over the past several weeks, a steady drip of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have announced plans to launch their own rental and resale service. They see these services as a way to reach a younger, more socially-conscious consumer, and they're inspired by the success of fast-growing startups like Rent the Runway and the RealReal. But many of the startups these traditional retailers are seeking to emulate remain unprofitable, and are struggling to maintain high levels of customer service as they continue to scale.
It's become one of the most talked-about subjects in the DTC world: one of the biggest challenges brands face today is the rising cost of customer acquisition, particularly on digital channels like Facebook and Google. But, the customer acquisition challenges DTC brands face goes beyond cost, and as such, it will take more than just an advertising channel offering low CPMs to win them over.
Target's strategy of using its stores to fulfill orders placed online continue to drive an increase in both digital sales and foot traffic. Now, as Target has remodeled the majority of its stores to ensure they can effectively serve as fulfillment centers, its eyeing additional investments in automation and employee training to ensure it can keep up with digital sales growth.
TJ Maxx has been slow to invest in its website and e-commerce offerings, even as other retailers get into the off-price game and threaten to take away some of its market share. Its parent company, the TJX Companies, has been one of the few retailers to consistently post same-store sales growth over the past year. But that sales growth hasn't come on the back of significant investments in e-commerce.
SmileDirectClub will soon be one of the few companies that started as an online-only, direct-to-consumer startup to make it to the public markets, setting the bar for what it will take for other DTC companies, particularly in the health care industry, to go public. On Friday SmileDirectClub -- which sells teeth alignment kits direct-to-consumer -- made its confidential IPO filing public, revealing that the company generated $423 million in revenue in 2018, with a net loss of $74.8 million.
In January, Pinterest created a new sales team that was tasked with figuring out how they can get younger startups, particularly direct-to-consumer brands, to spend more money on the platform.
Exclusively for Modern Retail+ members: Hear from Connie Matisse, Co-founder and CMO and Alex Matisse, Co-founder and CEO at East Fork Ceramics, on how to maintain brand loyalty during a time of tumult.Subscribe