What brands can learn from D2C trendsetters

D2C as a business model has always existed. We saw it from street vendors to doorstep sellers who knew us by name and preferences. Currently, D2C refers to brands selling direct to consumers rather than the more traditional approach of selling through retailers.

The D2C business model is no longer just the value proposition for brands, but now also encompasses the tactics they have creatively used to grow their market share (while also adapting to the preferences of each market). These tactics are lessons that all brands can learn and apply to their business model.

Amplify presence on social networks

28% of internet users worldwide discover brands / products through social media ads and 43% search for products through social media. This means that social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LINE, TikTok, Xiaohongshu (RED) or WeChat are the first points of contact with the consumer (instead of a Google search). Therefore, it is essential that brands apply the lessons of D2C brands to their overall strategies.

One example is Nike, which has amplified its 165 million social media followers to increase its D2C commerce revenue, accounting for 33.1% of its total revenue in 2020. Other well-established brands have also taken the bandwagon by walk to use social media hashtags or encourage consumers to post their product reviews. L’Oréal used TikTok with the hashtag #LetsFaceIt challenge to de-stigmatize mask wearing and garnered nearly 17 billion video views, becoming one of the top performing TikTok campaigns of 2020.

Dynamic online assets

D2C brands need to generate a greater variety of marketing content and improve the content seen on their e-commerce website. This means creating a marketing content ecosystem that adapts to different social media platforms, including repurposing content for every platform and market. D2C brands also need to ensure that they produce top-notch product photographs to entice consumers to buy.

Australian mattress brand D2C Koala (which launched in 2015 and reached $ 13 million in sales in its first 12 months) has created a variety of compelling images to accompany its D2C e-commerce website, such as than unboxing videos, Facebook ads with clickable headlines like “Man buys a Koala mattress just to get his ads off his f — king news feed” and several other unconventional videos like “Can your mattress do that? – Zero disturbance test “which has garnered over 1.5 million views. Its marketing content is a mixture of images presenting the characteristics of the product as well as unique and fun content intended to develop its audience on the networks social.

One of the advantages of D2C brands having full control over their content is that it is easier to manage through an agile content development workflow and a robust content management system. It also makes it easier to understand the preferences of consumers interacting with marketing content and tailor future marketing campaigns for them.

Focus on physical packaging

Much of the consumer’s experience happens when they finally receive the long-awaited package in their mailbox. Many D2C brands design packaging that creates a memorable consumer unveiling experience. This provides an additional opportunity for brand followers to share on social media platforms. Some brands have further reinforced this behavior by offering additional prices to consumers who share their product photos and tag the brand in their social media posts.

The Glossier skin care and makeup brand is one example. Its physical packaging is minimalist, complements itself when placed side by side, and is wrapped in pink bubble wrap, making it very social media friendly. This allows Glossier another channel to easily collect consumer feedback and engage directly.

Customized products

According to the research of psychologist George Miller in the 1950s, the optimal number of choices that can be processed at one time is seven (plus or minus two). As consumers, we love personalization and options, but too many choices often slow down the buying journey. Quizzes to create personalization without overwhelming the consumer is a method that D2C brands have applied to avoid the crippling of too much choice.

D2C skincare brands like Yours simplified the ordering process by giving consumers a personalized quiz on things like skin type, lifestyle, and environment, then recommending a formula tailored specifically to the issues. of users’ skin. The consumer is happy to get a tailored skin care product instead of having to search through multiple skin care brands to find which ones contain the ingredients that are best suited for their skin.

An example of a B2C applying this to the D2C concept is Mondelez, who launched oreo.com, where consumers can customize the colors and flavor of Oreos or even add an image / text to them. The website also includes recipes and ideas on how to incorporate Oreos into desserts and collectibles. Personalization engages consumers and provides unique content for consumers to post on social media.

Subscription models

D2C subscription brands like Perk Coffee or Hook Coffee are good examples of simplifying the buying process for busy multitasking. Consumers can choose the type of coffee they like and make sure the beans are ground to suit the way they drink their coffee. If they’re having trouble choosing, they can request to receive a new flavor with each delivery and choose their delivery schedule based on their consumption.

The subscription model has also gained traction for learning-based D2C brands. KiwiCo and Little Passports (with similar concepts in Asia like Big Book Box in India or Atom and the Dot in Malaysia) have won over busy parents who may not have the time or expertise to organize suitable themed activities. at the age of their children. These subscription boxes support busy parents while providing opportunities to bond around shared activity.

Amplify the brand’s objective

For many D2C brands, the purpose and mission of the brand is the most important part of their strategy. This has been especially true for menstrual care products like the Diva and Freedom cups, which have become synonymous with improving the menstrual experience for women. The mission to find a more comfortable and environmentally friendly option for women to use has led to increased awareness and increased and engaged global brand following.

Several D2C skin care brands have also put social responsibility at the forefront of their message. Krave communicates with consumers about the importance of simplicity in skin care, and Rooki Beauty has developed clean products that use superfoods. By focusing on the brand’s mission and purpose, D2C brands have to work much harder than most B2C brands to not only gain sales and market share, but also to promote and educate the market on their missions. unique brands.

Improved in-store experiences

In recent years, fully online brands have moved towards using physical space. Iuiga (which started as a purely online store in 2017) has opened stores so that consumers can view key products and purchase certain products in-store. These in-store experiences are not meant to compete with a D2C’s online orientation, but rather to improve the brand in the mind of the consumer.

The winners of the B2C to D2C conversion race have also used the retail space to improve the interaction they have with consumers in other areas. Nike launched “Nike Rise” in Guangzhou, China, where visitors can use their in-store Nike app to register for local soccer matches and running clubs.

Traditional brands can learn a lot from the D2C trendsetters of the world today. D2C brands have used their deep understanding of the needs of their consumers to improve their shopping experience. This is no small feat as it takes place amidst the crowded noise of the online marketplace. But successful D2Cs have worked hard to engage their consumers, developing a level of loyalty often unmatched by traditional brands.


Grace Chen is Head of Business Solutions at SGK. She brings more than 10 years of experience in consumer marketing, IT and operations management consulting. Chen has led global and regional projects in the CPG, healthcare and retail industries in APAC, AMERS and Europe. A certified Prince2 practitioner, Prosci Change Management and trained in Lean Six Sigma, Chen has successfully implemented various continuous improvement initiatives. In her spare time, she enjoys trying new local specialties and finding new brands that add a twist to the products we see every day.


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