Why DTC marketing is no longer about accessible price points

In its early days, being direct-to-consumer meant lower prices. Because there was no middleman, so the theory went, companies were offering better quality goods at more competitive prices. But as the industry matures, there has been a shift away from branding DTC products as the most affordable alternative to traditional retail shopping for personal products.  The strategy to offer “no markups” was integral for the success of Warby Parker and Everlane, among others when they launched a decade ago. However, that’s no longer the case, as evident from a new crop of luxury DTC brands that are looking to duplicate the model’s biggest success stories, in diamonds, luxury fashion and more.

Latest Stories

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    Casper’s IPO filing, annotated

    A darling of the direct-to-consumer world is finally going public. Casper filed its long-awaited S-1 on Friday, almost a year after rumors first broke that the mattress brand had hired underwriters.

  • JAN 09, 2020

    The future is female (founded): Lola workshops its caring, inclusive culture as a women-led startup

    As more DTC companies face cultural growing pains, Lola's co-founders are trying to build a culture that supports all of its employees.

  • JAN 07, 2020

    In effort to boost retention, e-commerce startups are selling access to events and content

    As subscription startups look to boost their retention rates, they are doing away with the term subscription. Instead, they're pitching customers on joining a membership, where they'll get access to more than just product. The hope is that by giving subscribers access to more exclusive perks like events or special sales, they will stick with the service longer, and spend more money with the company

  • JAN 02, 2020

    In 2020, DTC brands will hit a revenue wall

    As CAC costs continue to rise, DTC brands may begin to feel the stress of business reality. The question remains: what comes next for businesses that grew online and are expected to scale beyond $50 million. While some may be able to build solid omnichannel businesses, others may be in the midst of a reckoning.

  • DEC 30, 2019

    These startups are racing to help retailers create their own version of Amazon Go stores

    Where Amazon goes, other retailers follow. So as Amazon has rapidly expanded its network of Go stores, startups like Grabango and Zippin have launched to help retailers launch similar types of facilities that allow customers to walk in and out without having to stop at a cash register. These types of stores usually use a mix of computer vision and sensors to track which items shoppers pick up as they move throughout the store. That way, when a shopper exits, the store knows exactly which items to charge each customer for, typically through an app the customer has to download before entering. 

  • DEC 27, 2019

    Forerunner Ventures’ Eurie Kim: You’re not going to get clarity at an early stage startup

    Since San Francisco-based Forerunner Ventures launched its first venture fund in 2010, the firm has backed some of the fastest-growing direct-to-consumer startups in recent years, from Bonobos to Away to Glossier. Now, as there are DTC brands in every category from toothpaste to pet food, Forerunner is making a more diverse array of investments in commerce. This year for example, Forerunner started investing in more companies like supply chain company Attabottics and returns startup Narvar that help address the logistical challenges these DTC brands face as they scale.

  • DEC 24, 2019

    ‘Costs just became unsustainable’: The year Facebook fell out of favor with DTC brands

    For years, direct-to-consumer brands have relied on Facebook and Instagram advertising to acquire new customers rapidly. This year, they tried to wean themselves off of it. Rather than putting all of their eggs in one basket, more DTC brands see acquiring customers in places other than Facebook as key to building a profitable, sustainable business.

  • DEC 18, 2019

    Why 2019 was a big year for point-of-sale lenders

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  • DEC 13, 2019

    As Peloton tries to find a growth path, it needs to contend with cheaper competition

    Peloton has had a rough week. First, it aired a TV ad that was widely panned. Then, a short seller brought up some searing points about the competitive landscape. The question remains: Can the exercise company rely on its cult-like status to become the multi-billion dollar brand investors think it can be?

  • DEC 11, 2019

    With Lululemon COO, Away gets a new CEO experienced in expansion

    On Monday, Away announced that Stuart Haselden, currently Lululemon's COO, will replace co-founder Steph Korey as CEO come January. Haselden has experience navigating some of the key challenges Away will face -- namely, evolving a company's brand identity as it expands beyond its core product, and developing a comprehensive plan for international expansion.

  • DEC 10, 2019

    How DTC startups are preparing for an uptick in returns over the holidays

    In order to better manage returns over the holidays, all retailers are looking at how they can give customers more cost-effective ways to exchange and send back items. But it's particularly a challenge for direct-to-consumer startups, many of whom at most have a handful of physical stores that customers can return products to.

  • DEC 06, 2019

    ‘New cultural schadenfreude’: Peloton’s ad crisis highlights problems emblematic of a new class of companies

    Peloton has had a rough week, following the release of a much-derided TV ad. People on Twitter criticized the company, and its market capitalization dropped. The entire saga highlights a new kind of luxury company -- and how they represent a growing cultural divide.

  • SEP 13, 2021

    Back to school 2021: What happened and what it means moving forward

    Watch this on-demand webinar where experts discuss the changes to the back-to-school season and what it means for retailers now and in the future.

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