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.
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.
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 Trump's increased China tariffs continue to take a toll on the US economy, many smaller DTC businesses are faced with some tough choices. But for most, it's not simply as easy as moving manufacturing out of the country.
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.
After gathering customer insight from subscribers around the types of wines they prefer over Vinebox’s past three-and-a-half years, and seeing users buying more cases of the individual pours outside of the three-month delivery cycle, Vinebox founder Matt Dukes launched Usual Wines, a private-label brand of wines made in-house. Usual wines, which launched eight months ago, are sold in packs of six and can be bought online and at Usual’s first branded store and wine bar in San Francisco.
Wine company Winc just launched its equity crowdfunding campaign on the Seedinvest platform, in the hopes that it can raise a Series D fund with the help of its fanbase. Winc has raised nearly $50 million from traditional investors. Now, it's turning to everyday people with some extra cash to spare asking them to invest in the growing company too. It's a rare move for the alcohol space, but follows in the footsteps of a few interesting brands.
This past week, Arizona Iced Tea announced plans to launch a partnership with a cannabis company. It follows a few other bigger brands dipping their toes in the cannabis space. While ingredients like THC and CBD are trending culturally, the companies trying to launch these products have an unclear regulatory road ahead.
Brands transitioning their marketing strategies to account for broad awareness-raising channels – which yield little to no insight into attribution or customer data – have to navigate an awkward growing-up phase that requires a reallocation of resources, navigating partnerships, new methods for tracking results and back-end preparation to meet a new level of customer response.
On Wednesday, Gin Lane announced that it is shutting down its agency work, and rebranding to Pattern. Pattern will launch its own brands and operate them under one holding company, joining the long line of agencies that have tried to launch their own products.
Home insurance startup Hippo just reached unicorn status. Since the very beginning, the company worked with the branding agency Work & Co to help craft and evolve its strategy and products. While many upstart DTC brands sing the praises of bringing all branding in-house, this provides a helpful example of an agency partnership that helped a company be worth more than $1 billion.
When five-year-old startup Eight Sleep released a new product in February, a $1,995 smart mattress that offers dynamic temperature adjustment, the company used the launch to kick off a "pretty intense testing phase" of new marketing channels, according to senior vice president of growth Ori Klein.
Many DTC brands are no longer happy selling just products. Instead, they're expanding into services and platforms. But is this strategy to scale achievable or just empty promises to investors?
Children's apparel brand Rockets of Awesome is opening its first pop-up store in New York City on August 8. As a company that caters to both children and parents, it's looking at its store as a way to figure out how they want to shop together.
Most digitally-native retail brands start small, but as they grow they increasingly need to scale their customer service program. Recent headlines from growing companies like Rent the Runway illustrate the growing need DTCs have for centralized and proactive customer service programs.
Digital messaging is central to human communication, yet most customer support teams sound deeply inhuman on digital platforms. To connect with modern consumers, it's crucial to get conversational through text, email and social — but without getting invasive. Download the guide to learn how.
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