The D2C model allows brands to foster stronger relationships with their customers, gain insights into valuable consumer data for product testing and iteration, and keep a more significant share of profits.
While D2C sales are up more than 24% in 2020, according to eMarketer, setting up a D2C program does not guarantee its success.
The Digital Shelf Institute (DSI) presents the D2C Strategy Playbook Series, a virtual program of expert-led sessions outlining how to navigate a D2C program in this "new normal." Rachel Tipograph, founder and CEO of enterprise eCommerce marketing platform MikMak and former head of digital and social at Gap, hosted the most recent session, "How to Act Like a Darling D2C Brand When You're a Brand Available Everywhere."
Tipograph discussed which elements of the D2C playbook — used by so many darling D2C brands — can be emulated by brands across industries and sizes to ensure that they can get their fair share of the rapidly rising D2C sales segment.
Take ownership of the customer journey
From social media channels and videos to influencer marketing techniques, D2C brands are well-known for controlling as many customer touchpoints as possible.
Having this control allows D2C brands to guarantee consistency across offered product content and experiences. It also allows them to collect valuable data that will result in improvements across all elements of their commerce strategy.
Owning this journey also includes making it as easy as possible for your customers to purchase products across multiple platforms. The more effort brands put into directing consumers to a specific place to buy, the more likely they are to lose them along the way.
Disregard marketing funnel notions
The academic way of looking at the marketing funnel — where consumers go from awareness to consideration to purchase to loyal to the brand — is no longer relevant in today's digital world, argues Tipograph.
"The internet knows what you want to buy before you search for it," Tipograph said.
Therefore, the funnel begins after awareness and consideration, with purchase and loyalty being at the heart of how brands should consider marketing campaigns and budget. After a consumer has made an initial purchase, marketers can target them with content that can showcase the brand and its values.
Now the brand also has data on the consumer and can better target other items accordingly. According to Tipograph, "brand building now begins after the purchase."
Forget the 'spray and pray' method
Gone are the days of considerable investments in general awareness campaigns. With a surplus of products and a seemingly endless array of ways consumers can purchase items today, Tipograph argues that the path to success is through niche target audiences.
She highlighted the successful acquisition of Native Deodorant by P&G as an excellent example of this. Already known for a range of healthcare and beauty brands, P&G put down $100 million to acquire Native Deodorant, even though it had only generated $25 million in sales.
The reason for this was Native Deodorant had incredible success in targeting two very niche segments with their aluminum-free deodorant: those whose lives had been impacted by cancer and prenatal women.
Tipograph notes that P&G was so impressed by Native’s go-to-market strategy that they wanted other brands in their portfolio to emulate it.
Create 'thumb-stopping' creative content
Brands don't just need to worry about their competitor sets online — they need to worry about every single internet user who is also vying for the attention of their target consumer's time on the internet. An effective way to combat this is with eye-catching (and truly useful) content.
Tipograph said the format of that creative would differ based on the industry. For example, with food and beverage, "how-to" recipe videos convert at a higher rate. Alcohol brands also see success with creative focused on recipes or taste pairing. Meanwhile, today's apparel brands need to showcase what their products look like on people of all shapes and sizes, along with offering more interactive experiences like 360-degree views.
'eCommerce isn't set it and forget it'
While these D2C inspired strategies can certainly be valuable for all brands, the truth is that they’re useless if they’re not continuously monitored and improved upon.
“eCommerce isn’t set it and forget it. It’s hands-on keyboards,” said Tipograph. Those that are willing to invest the time and energy into getting it right will be seen as the “darling” brands in this next era of digital commerce.