We’ve all been doing a lot more Direct to Consumer (D2C) shopping of late. And we must confess to some lockdown shopping discoveries at Flintlock that have got us thinking about why we’ve all got so hooked.

Changing Habits

Deloitte report that “… rapidly evolving technologies, consumer demographic shifts, changing consumer preferences, and economic uncertainty” are fuelling consumer habits to go digital and shop direct.

COVID19 looks likely to have embedded this further. And brands are responding by taking matters into their own digital hands.

Room For All

D2C is a low-cost entry point for start-ups. With no legacy systems and multiple digital channels available, brands can grow – fast.

Agility wins in D2C. See how Woo Woo has understood the accelerating power D2C brings, deploying social media influencers together with a powerful programmatic strategy to sharpen its positioning and ‘go global’ in its first five years. 2020 established D2C further, with brands forced to take action. Those who were there already were impressively nimble. Just look at Mindful Chef and Gousto.

Today, if a proven business model operates D2C at 70%, they become attractive scaleable investments or buy out propositions. And plenty of big-name brands are catching on. Just look at Unilever upping its D2C game since announcing a 9% growth in the space since lockdown.

Brands have to step-up and be quick to maximise the opportunity that D2C provides.

How?

Learn from Your Customer

D2C brands can learn a lot from their customers. And every sign-up, purchase and interaction becomes highly valuable first-party data.

Take fashion brand WYSE. They realised this when they started to use ‘clever social media marketing’ during the first lockdown. Founder Marielle Wyse got active on twice-weekly Instagram lives. She started a two-way style conversation that grew a ‘community’ of dedicated followers who’ve bought into what is now an ‘in tune’ highly collaborative design approach. They’ve learned, responded and evolved with their customer.

HARRY’S razors were innovators of this, building interest and a 100k email list before they launched. Sending free samples, they could produce a product they knew their customers loved.

Bottling this learning should be our goal. It gives marketers pinpointed evidence and insight. The more we switch on to our customers and the digital data under our noses, the more we learn, the better our decisions, and the better the outcome.

Keep Connecting

D2C gives consumers direct access to the brands they favour. They sign up for what they love and what interests them. Brands then have to help them to ‘make the effort’ to shop direct.

Being in the right place at the right time will help. StoryStream is built for that job – where brand D2C powerhouses like Boden are tuning in to boost their e-commerce strategy. Its AI Curator means brands can choose the best of ‘paid, owned, earned’ to place “the content that sells” in the right place at the right time on their own websites. Smart, time-easing and strategic, it is growing engagement and sales by as much as 20%.

Email remains compelling. It’s like a customer one-to-one. Holland & Barrett, Belazu and Wyse are masters at popping into our inboxes with news we want to hear. What foodie can resist a free recipe book, or nutrition tip, let alone a fashionista given access to a VIP flash sale?

Connecting with your customer in the right way and showing you ‘get’ them counts. It inspires them to love and buy your brand. When they do, they are your best advocates and path to growth.

Make It Easy To Feel Good

Subscription is a stalwart of the D2C model. Everyday life is busy, so consumers enjoy convenience. But increasingly, they want to feel good about those choices. Values matter.

Eco D2C brands do well here. Smol, Grind, Oddbox and Abel and Cole offer the ease whilst helping us feel that we’re ‘doing our bit.’ Subscribing with them gives customers both savings and sustainability. These brands give back in ‘values’ plus. Offering recipes, tips and treats they work hard to extend the feel-good vibes.

D2C is also bringing the lifestyles we seek to us. See how Peloton ‘spun’ into action as gyms closed in lockdown. And those regular ‘little treat’ brands like Bloom and Wild and Freddie’s Flowers have delighted us by bringing nature into our living rooms.

The D2C world is changing all the time. As marketers, we need to be on our digital toes. And, if we want to take our customers with us, we have all the information we need – at our fingertips.

If you’d like to know more about our work with D2C brands or would like some advice on brand strategy in a D2C market do contact Graham Appleyard or Tasha Gladman to learn more.

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