We’re calling it – the eCommerce industry has shifted. It’s something we’ve been seeing for a few years now, but we’re only just beginning to really take notice of the ways in which the internet and social media have really made their mark on eCommerce.
Bypassing the middleman – the Myers, DJs, bricks-and-mortars of yesteryear – and going directly to consumer is the new frontier of retail. Brands like Koala, Warby Parker and Clare may never have made it out of their infancy by going down the traditional path. But through embracing their status as digital natives (a little like yours truly), they’ve been able to connect directly with their audiences and amass cult followings that are based on – as Janine Wolf writes – “brand love, not brand loyalty.”
If you’ve got a great idea for a brand that lends itself to a meaningful experience or impact for your consumers, then great – you’ve got the first ingredient. But it takes a lot more than just the initial spark to get a direct-to-consumer brand up and running, or everyone would be doing it. Well, everyone is doing it – but for your brand to stand the test of time, you’ll need to do it well.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s break down exactly what this direct-to-consumer business is all about, and why it’s so important to today’s eCommerce landscape.
Understanding the direct-to-consumer buzz
Before we go any further, we’ll address that one person who’s surely reading this just bursting to say – ‘direct-to-consumer brands aren’t anything new!’ Alright – you’ve got us there. We’re not saying that this is a new idea to go the start-up route.
But the growing influence of social media and the internet have certainly made it a more accessible one. While you’d need to pony up around $5 million to get your business off the ground in the year 2000, today you can start with just $5K (or a well-timed appearance on Shark Tank).
It’s this idea that anyone can start a direct-to-consumer brand – along with its ties to digital – that has attracted a wealth of millennials to the space. Reflected in the often-youthful, always minimal branding that quietly defines the direct-to-consumer look, the millennial touch can be seen across all elements of these brands. Think the Britney-pink of beauty powerhouse Glossier, or the quick wit of mattress brand Koala’s advertising.
But it’s just as much about talking the talk as it is about looking the part. Direct-to-consumer brands aren’t just here to offer you a product or a service – they’re here to make your life better for it.
This is how Glossier explains its purpose:
It’s about fun and freedom and being OK with yourself today. We make intuitive, uncomplicated products designed to live with you.
That’s a hell of a lot more relatable than the old Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe that’s why 9 of the top 10 US beauty brands have posted a sales dip in 2019, while Glossier has climbed to a over a billion dollars.