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.
While individual retail credit cards lose their luster, new programs providing no-interest loans are becoming much more popular. New data shows just how quick these services are growing, and how this past year helped these companies get some real traction.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Typically, the path to opening a permanent physical store for older DTC brands like Casper and Glossier looked like this: open a few pop-up stores in the cities where most of your customers are, make sure that they're stacked with highly Instagrammable displays and events, and use those pop-ups as a training ground for opening up your own physical retail stores. But even pop-ups that only run for a few months can be expensive. So, many younger brands are trying to strike partnerships with other DTC brands to display product in their stores for a limited period of time, or partner with companies outside of retail to display product or host events
There's a rising supply of direct-to-consumer brands eager to hand over money to agencies to help them with their Facebook marketing. In the latest edition of our Confessions series, in which we offer anonymity in exchange for candor, we speak to a former marketer who cycled through several agencies -- ultimately landing at one that focused mostly on direct-to-consumer brands -- before going freelance.
There are so many DTC cookware brands it's hard to keep them straight. Now, these players are growing and trying to stay alive by expanding product lines and inking retail partnerships. The latest example is Material, which is now partnering with the furniture brand West Elm.
More direct-to-consumer brands are experimenting with partnership marketing, in order to further diversify their marketing spend away from Facebook and Google. Although there are inexpensive ways to test out partnership marketing, it can take a lot of trial and error to figure out which brands are actually effective to partner with.
Direct-to-consumer brands like to trumpet the fact that they have more access to customer data than traditional brands. Now, as they grow and add more products, they're also looking to launch loyalty programs that give them better insight into how their customers behave compared to traditional loyalty programs. Mizzen+Main, which sells mens dress shirts and pants, is launching a new loyalty program on Tuesday that it hopes will give the company more insight into when exactly its customers are looking to shop.
When handbag brand Dagne Dover launched in 2012, its products were only available for sale through its own website. But today, shoppers can find Dagne Dover bags for sale on Nordstrom's website, in Stitch Fix boxes, in select Apple stores, as well as some Equinox gyms. While Dagne Dover started as a direct-to-consumer brand, wholesale now accounts for just under 20% of its revenue. Founder and CEO Melissa Mash wants to keep it that way.
As shoppers' email inboxes and Instagram stories have become cluttered with ads from direct-to-consumer brands urging them to get 20% off their new rug or sleepwear collection, newer brands are in search of new places to talk to customers where they aren't yet sick of hearing from brands. One method of communication that's starting to become more popular: text messaging.
The RealReal's latest earnings results showed the company still in the red, but growing revenue. Wall Street considered it an overall success. Most companies in the resale space are trying to grow quickly, and have yet to turn a profit. Despite that, investors continue to be interested in the space.
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