Following a wave of fashion brands launching voting merch, beauty brands are rolling out their own get-out-the-vote efforts — with some more partisan than others. With the U.S. election less than one month away, a growing number of beauty brands are promoting voter registration through social media campaigns and merch. Most brands have taken a stand on progressive issues, especially with their support for Black Lives Matter this summer. But in an America sharply divided along political lines, they are taking differing approaches on whether to directly (or indirectly) endorse a candidate.
As an installment payment app Affirm has become known as the go-to partner of high ticket items, including fitness startups like Peloton and designers like Gucci. However, the company is making a foray into lower-priced transactions with the addition of its new product, which allows for purchases as low as $50. This move is part of a bigger plan to become a more dominant payments player.
As online sales soar, it's also been a boon for the companies interested in providing funding to these e-commerce businesses. Toronto-based Clearbanc said it's invested more than $1 billion into 3,300 companies, up from roughly 2,000 at the end of last year. Shopify, which has an alternative lending arm called Shopify Capital, reported that it doled out $153 million in financing to e-commerce businesses in the U.S, U.K. and Canada during its second quarter, a 65% increase from the same period last year. As studies project that e-commerce will continue to make up a growing portion of total retail sales even after the pandemic ends, these alternative lenders are betting that the amount of funding e-commerce businesses will need will also only grow.
Despite experiencing record e-commerce sales during the coronavirus, DTC CEOs are trying to prepare for how to handle some worst-case scenarios over the holidays. Specifically, fears over shipping delays and how to compete with deep discounts are keeping them up at night. As they've had to do throughout the coronavirus outbreak, they're trying to figure out what unexpected scenarios to plan for.
As flu season begins and with it possibly a second coronavirus wave, consumers appear more concerned over health and safety than ever. Before, home essentials were in high demand. Now, it's nicer products focused on health and sanitation. Startups like air purifiers maker Molekule, DTC bidet Tushy and emergency kit brand Judy expect the growing interest in their products to follow suit.
Topicals, which makes products for common skin-care ailments, has been using Twitter as a way to engage with customers. Compared to Instagram, Twitter is a great way to have conversations with people. The brand has used it for education, as well as empowerment. And this strategy has led to increased sales.
There's no shortage of "last chance" sales hitting email inboxes these days, as desperate retailers like Gap and Macy's are trying to squeeze some much-needed revenue out of shoppers. But that also makes it harder for younger startups to grab customers' attention, when every retail company in the world is trying to email them. So, some startups are turning to text message instead to promote sales or key events. Thinx, used text messaging to promote its 30% off sale in August, while Lensabl is encouraging customers to get their first-time discount via text message instead of email.
The days of tossed over branded swag seem long gone, thanks to young brands making branded apparel a core part of their marketing strategy. In recent years, brands like Glossier and SoulCycle proved a community of enthusiastic fans can act as walking billboards. Now, the awareness-growing tactic is being deployed even by new companies. Now, with in-person events out the window, merch is becoming even more important to DTC startups.
Consumer packaged goods, especially those consumer mostly at home, have experienced a resurgence in interest in the past few months. Much like meal kits and alcohol, breakfast cereal lends itself to being consumed at the kitchen table rather than on the go. DTC brand Magic Spoon, which aims to reinvent the cereal category, has been an example of this demand.
Private labels have been on the rise for the past five years and show no sign of stopping. With consumers giving non-national brands a second look and a shortage of essential supplies, retailers are focusing on growing their in-house labels more than ever. One example is online bulk grocery delivery service Boxed, which launched Prince & Spring five years ago. Now, the line is expanding it at a rapid pace.
As one of the brand founders who've vowed to stay away from Amazon over the years, Camille Rose's Janell Stephens had a change of heart when the pandemic hit. In the past year, she went from attempting to stop second-hand product sales on the site to opening an official Amazon store. Speaking to Modern Retail, the haircare brand's founder and CEO discussed the divisive channel's addition to the company's retail expansion.
In March, the fundraising environment for direct-to-consumer startups was "downright frozen," as Michael Duda, managing partner at hybrid accelerator agency and venture capital fund Bullish, put it. Now, March seems like a lifetime ago. Over the past six months, many direct-to-consumer startups in categories ranging from home improvement, health and wellness, and food have struck it big, reporting that their online sales have doubled or tripled while customer acquisition costs have decreased. Consumer investors are starting to close deals again, while investors that had previously soured on DTC startups because of high customer acquisition costs are starting to change their tune.
The rise of low and non-alcoholic cocktail alternatives has been in the works for some time. Now, specialty beverage brands like Seedlip, Ritual Proof Zero and Curious Elixirs are seeing additional demand for their products. As their founders see it, even alcohol drinkers are finding themselves needing to cut back on at-home consumption for health reasons.
The arrival of the pandemic made buying prescription eyewear even more of a nuisance. Not only were many optometry locations shut down, but many Americans also lost their jobs and health insurance in the process. This helped DTC eyewear seller Zenni grow its sales and new customer acquisition in record numbers.
Since launching in 2017, Gravity Products, the parent company behind the weighted Gravity Blankets, has quickly diversified its reach beyond its own website, selling its products through a handful of other retailers' stores and websites.Now, the company is announcing its biggest brick and mortar partnership to-date. This week, Gravity will start selling in 900 Target stores, and through the big-box retailers' website. As Gravity has added more wholesale partners, it has also sought to expand its product line to ensure it offers something unique to each wholesale partner.
With in-person sales largely out of the picture this holiday season, brands must adapt to deliver the frictionless experiences that online consumers expect and demand.
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