Gone are the days of reliance on big-name retailers to sell products. The internet has made commerce a more democratic space. Ecommerce gives businesses the ability to reach their customers directly and offer affordable products without skimping on quality.
The direct-to-consumer (DTC) model is having its time in the limelight and there are no signs of stopping. People are more comfortable with shopping online and many prefer the convenience of buying from DTC brands.
For those unfamiliar with the term, direct-to-consumer brands are brands that cut out the middlemen (stores like Sephora, department stores, and retail outlets) and reach buyers through their online stores. This gives them control of nearly every step of the customer journey, thanks to first-party buyer data.
Direct-to-consumer marketing naturally happens online on platforms like social media, search engines, podcasts, YouTube, and the like. However, some brands stand out for their marketing prowess online and have succeeded in making a name for themselves even against competitors that include legacy brands and brands with larger marketing budgets.
These are some examples of DTC brands that are making waves online and have established a good reputation. Their strategies could be something that could apply to your own business, too, so keep on reading if you want to know more.
Blue Apron is a meal kit delivery company that offers a variety of meal plans that are delivered to the customer’s door. It targets people who want to make healthy food choices and spend less time planning and cooking meals.
The meal subscription box service isn’t unique to Blue Apron. Many businesses have followed suit so competition in this space is tight. However, Blue Apron has adapted its marketing accordingly.
They use influencer marketing via food bloggers and social media personalities so they can reach a new audience and gain social proof. Blue Apron has also leveraged podcasts in its marketing strategy, which has worked wonders to give it an edge over competitors.
Their social media ads emphasize savings the customer can gain from subscribing to their meal kits. They give a sizeable discount on the shopper’s first 6 orders and advertise this offer heavily. Free shipping is often part of the first purchase as well.
Burrow is a direct-to-consumer furniture retailer that seeks to fill a niche in the furniture industry by making modular designs that are modern and stylish. They also pride themselves in using durable, made-to-last materials and having a direct customer relationship.
What that means is that they listen to feedback from customers and use that knowledge to improve their designs. It works because brands don’t often take this approach, which posts a risk of ending the relationship when the sale is completed.
Here’s an example of their commitment to listening to their customers. Burrow’s bestselling bed was updated with new features like new legs and a new headboard. They promote these changes in their emails.
Meanwhile, their ads emphasize their free shipping offers, customer reviews, press mentions, and how-to videos. The videos show how quick it is to assemble their products and what the furniture is like when used in daily life.
Zenni is an affordable eyewear brand that’s giving Warby Parker a run for its money. It positions itself as a cost-efficient alternative to other optical brands. That doesn’t mean they scrimp on style and quality! Their value proposition is evident in their emails and ads, which are always engaging and vibrant.
Firstly, they know their audience well. In one email, they address more mature shoppers by advertising their “perfectly affordable progressives”. They mention rave reviews, 5-star ratings, the qualities of the eyeglasses, and their curated picks for progressive glasses.
They also emphasize their customer service in their marketing content. But what they highlight consistently is the price of their products, which is their main selling point.
To adapt to the time, they’ve partnered with actress and singer Keke Palmer and fashion icon Iris Apfel for a collection of chic sunnies and functional eyeglasses.
Overall, Zenni’s marketing is well-rounded and plays to the brand’s strengths.
Casper is another innovative DTC brand that has changed the way people shop for mattresses. They’re the first online bed-in-a-box retailer and have spawned dozens of copycats.
Casper’s success is a testament to the power of creative online marketing. Thanks to influencers and celebrities like Kylie Jenner, they’ve garnered a huge customer base. They also still run television ads to reach a wider audience.
Their commitment to giving customers great sleep is consistently emphasized in their website, ads, and emails. To enhance their product’s appeal, they have discounted bundles that pair their mattresses with accessories like mattress protectors and pillows.
Their ads include user-generated content featuring customers singing songs praising their mattresses and moving into their houses with mattress boxes in tow. Casper strikes a balance between keeping a professional feel to their marketing and being down-to-earth through using trendy content like this.
Everlane made waves by being one of the first sustainable DTC fashion brands whose value proposition was creating quality clothing for a less prohibitive price compared to big retailers.
They emphasize ethical labor standards in their production as well, which they achieve by cutting out extraneous costs that would usually go to the middlemen in the production process.
By doing this, they can sell their sustainable products for less without sacrificing quality and are able to help customers save money.
Sustainability and transparency is a major theme in Everlane’s marketing. In their emails, they include copy that highlights repurposed or recycled materials that go into their clothing. Their subject line often mentions carbon footprints or their commitment to the planet (“Stay warm without warming the planet.”).
They also integrate user-generated content such as social media comments, gift idea videos, and outfit try-ons.
Everlane proves that you can build a brand around sustainability while appealing to a wide audience.
Lastly, Lively is an underwear brand founded in 2016 and quickly gained a following, thanks to customer and community-centric philosophy. Being a digital-first brand, in order to build strong community, it was a must to go beyond the screen. They took their brand to brick-and-mortar stores and in-person events in order to bring people together.
This customer-centered approach is evident in their digital marketing strategy, too. They’re a relatable brand with messaging that resonates with their target audience. Their content goes beyond just bras. They also partner with thousands of ambassadors who organically spread the word about their products.
In their emails, they help subscribers choose the right bra, showcase customers wearing their products, and offer cost-efficient bundles. Meanwhile, Lively’s ads heavily feature user-generated content, as you would expect from a community-focused brand.
Lively has succeeded at positioning itself as an approachable brand that puts their customers first.
You can learn so much from following direct-to-consumer brands who have carved out a following online. Their continued success is due to their strategic marketing efforts. Even as competitors enter their industries, they are prepared because they’ve established themselves and set themselves apart. We hope this list was valuable to you in building your marketing strategy!