Skincare startup Topicals, which launched earlier this year, has said that it wants to market itself to the idiosyncrasies of Gen Z. With that, much of its content is posted on Twitter or TikTok, rather than Instagram. And its aesthetic and voice has been much more unvarnished rather than the preened tone many people expect from certain brands. On the most recent Modern Retail Talk, Topicals co-founders Olamide Olowe and Claudia Teng spoke about how the company has positioned itself and why it has attempted to rethink its overall brand messaging.
As a behind-the-scenes restaurant vendor, dinnerware brand Jono Pandolfi has relied on wholesale sales for nearly a decade. However, when hospitality and fine dining all but shut down this year, the ceramics company found revenue opportunity in a new segment of customers. Since focusing on growing its DTC revenue, online sales have tripled year-over-year, with overall profits up by nearly 400%.
Podcast advertising is booming -- particularly in light of the news Spotify recently announced that it is acquiring podcast advertising and publishing platform Megaphone. And direct-to-consumer startups are helping fuel that boom, considering the long-running joke that Blue Apron, MeUndies and Casper are essentially underwriting the shows they advertise on. The Spotify-Megaphone deal could have significant implications for what types of DTC brands are able to advertise on podcasts.
For many direct-to-consumer brands looking to sell and ship their products through someone's website besides their own, there's still only one dominant choice for them in the U.S., and that's Amazon. Despite the emergence of dozens of direct-to-consumer startups in every category from cookware to mattresses to pet food, no marketplaces have emerged to focus solely on these direct-to-consumer brands. That, in theory, leaves an opening for a new marketplace to create an alternative to Amazon for these direct-to-consumer brands.
One of the dominant moods of 2020 has been paralyzing uncertainty, and it's been particularly prevalent this week as Americans wait for the results of the presidential election. The election isn't the only thing on direct-to-consumer startup executives' minds -- after all, once the election is over, Black Friday is right around the corner. But Election Day also can't be business as usual.
For years, direct to consumer brands had been pouring their marketing budgets into physical flagship stores in hopes of real-world discovery. Now that storefronts are going through a transformation, brands and curators like Naked Retail and Showfields are rethinking the role of popups and stores. Here's what the new DTC showrooms are looking like in the coronavirus world.
There's a new most-talked about acronym in the DTC world these days: SPAC, which stands for special purpose acquisition company. SPACs give startups an alternative way to go public, without going through the traditional IPO. In a SPAC, a group of individuals raise money in order to acquire a company with the purpose of taking it public. At least one direct-to-consumer startup, Hims has already opted to go the SPAC route. But investors caution that SPACs won't entirely replace the traditional IPO process.
Quip's latest retail partnership shows that direct to consumer brands know they need to get into the hands of mainstream consumers to scale globally. It can also help drive subscriptions. As Quip CEO Simon Enever told Modern Retail, establishing brand ubiquity at national retailers “has always been a part of the plan."
In the direct to consumer space, a foray into retail usually requires getting noticed by big players like Walmart and Target. However, for a select group of home decor-centric brands, Williams-Sonoma-owned West Elm has become a resource for entering brick and mortar. From Leesa and Bearaby, to new cookware brands like Caraway, West Elm's portfolio of brands is looking increasingly like a DNVB hub.
Many direct-to-consumer brands have long held off on selling through Amazon. But they can't completely ignore its orbit, as Amazon still sets the conversation in e-commerce. There's a laundry list of DTC brands that have still held off on selling through Amazon -- Glossier, Warby Parker, Allbirds and Away to name a few. But, a few trends emerge among the digitally-native brands that have taken the leap to selling through Amazon.
Pattern, formerly known as Gin Lane, arguably helped create the ubiquitous minimalist DTC aesthetic. But after helping brands like Sweetgreen, Harry’s and Everlane achieve their branding goals, chief creative officer Emmett Shine explains why he's taking a step back and rethinking the model's tropes. "At the end of the day, you have to sell products," he told Modern Retail.
In conversations with a handful of direct-to-consumer startup executives about their holiday marketing plans, the biggest concern cited was figuring out when was the right time to run holiday ads. Both to ensure that customers order far enough in advance so that they get their products by Christmas, and to ensure that they are spending their holiday marketing dollars most efficiently. The executives Modern Retail spoke with said that for the most part, they weren't that concerned about rising digital advertising costs, either because they've been able to further diversify their ad spend away from digital this year, or customer acquisition costs are still lower than they are last year.
As Walmart+ gains momentum, so does the retailer's mission to double down on its DTC offerings. Specifically, the retail giant has been busy signing on digitally-native sexual wellness brands like Lola and Modern Fertility as partners in recent months. The burgeoning program allows DTC brands to reach millions of new customers physically, while the retail chain adds disruptive new brand offerings to its portfolio that target new and younger demographics.
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.
At the Modern Retail Summit LIVE, retail executives will come together virtually to discuss effective strategies for driving sales by building a loyal customer base both online and offline.Buy Passes