The D2C Opportunity

D2C (Direct to consumer) provides an incredible opportunity for a growing brand, retailers have experienced serious success by fostering the right type of D2C environment and utilising technology to showcase their product offering in a consumer-focused channel. By promoting a community feel with their consumers, which connects like-minded people, Brands can form a direct connection with their customer and allow customers to connect. These brands recognise the potential of technology in ways that drive brand value and attract consumers to purchase directly from them.

 

Finding the Niche

 

When introducing a D2C offering, it’s necessary for brands to find a way to make their products visible to consumers. Some organisations do this by focusing on a very niche appeal when they go to market, this way they target specific types of consumers and make their marketing/appeal revolve around them. Doc martens is a good example of this for two reasons, firstly while they’ve been D2C for a long time, what made them successful over various generations is finding their niche consumer groups and establishing a connection to them that drives their brand meaning and connection. When consumers look at that they see the worth of the brand inherent within it and the implication of quality associated with it.

Another thing these types of Brands do well is keeping their brand and consumer connection fresh, keeping up with changing trends. Often this is through collaborations and partnerships with other brands or well-known artists, who have their own consumer base. This works well for brands who create wearable items, allowing them to extend their own reach to other complementary consumer groups. Dr Martens again can be used as an example for this, as they create unique one-off products associated directly to that collaboration. Consumer demand can be generated of the back of these “unique” products, which have an inherent desirability.

Bombay Sapphire Gin is another similar example, they’re a long-term spirit manufacturer that’s capitalised on the D2C market, not just through selling their standard products but also through unique limited-edition versions of their regular products, which are marketed and sold via a D2C channel. They complement this by fostering a consumer community via newsletters and marketing offers to members of that registered community. Once again, having a unique product offering comes through strongly for a D2C brand.

Breitling is a D2C company which knows their niche. They have reshaped not only their purchasing journey but also their complete post-purchase journey. Making greater use of technology during these to give consumers a more complete association with the brand throughout their experience of being a Breitling owner. This includes innovative inventory and warranty management.

Breitling is the manufacturer of a luxury product, so with that direct consumer connection throughout the experience of owning a Breitling product it creates a degree of loyalty and intrinsic advertising for the brand (just by you wearing it). The importance of understanding this usage of technology to help drive closer consumer interaction and seamless experience cannot be understated as it enables you to (as Breitling have done) reshape how your brand interacts with your consumer not just during the purchase but far beyond.

Creating this kind of brand presence and loyalty is one of the most impactful elements an aspiring D2C brand can develop. Unfortunately, it can be one of their biggest challenges, becoming a known brand, even just within your domain, takes an extraordinary amount of work, creative thinking, and a well-developed marketing strategy.

You don’t always have to target specific groups to see success as a D2C. Other organisations go wide with mass marketing techniques, such as Gym Shark; they’ve always been D2C but evolved into a large brand and went mass market, no specific focus on a demographic or type of person, their gym wear was meant to appeal to a wide range of people. However, they still had features which made them stand out, their products were manufactured well and priced at certain price points which made it very appealing to a broad range of people, even those who rarely went to the gym. This has therefore extended their consumer reach and is allowing them to create a brand know for fashion wear beyond its original purpose.

 

The Advantages 

One advantage presented by D2C is the feedback you get directly from your consumer matched with the fact you own the manufacturing process; you can then very quickly incorporate this feedback into your product manufacturing in small increments and measure the responses to the variations you make on your product offering. This direct feedback also enables a brand to estimate demand which is highly beneficial, understanding consumer demand allows them to plan their manufacturing capability alongside the demand and maximise their margins, while reducing a risk of over-stocking.

Another opportunity for brands to stand out when moving to a D2C model is providing exceptional customer service. There will always be problems, but if these are handled swiftly and easily for the consumer, the likelihood they will return again is significantly increased. This can be providing multiple ways for consumers to get in contact, keeping them updated regularly as the issue is resolved. D2C brands are uniquely positioned to keep close track of their customer service and how they respond to ensure that they retain that customer. It also provides an opportunity to gather further direct feedback from consumers. Technology can help in this area as well, by giving consumers the opportunity to report on their experience and of the product itself. These can be incorporated into the consumer online purchasing journey to provide greater product authenticity, which helps the brand to be further established in the consumer market.

User generated content (UGC) can also be key for certain brands because viewing the product in a real-life scenario can drive a more compelling message to consumers thinking about purchasing. Especially when this imagery is complementing the traditional product image/video. Technology is again key to making the use of UGC efficient for a brand. There can be a significant amount of UGC out there, brands need to ensure this is manageable while making the biggest impact, otherwise the cost will outweigh the benefit.

Partnerships can be another advantage, as mentioned before, they offer an opportunity to increase your reach allowing connection to further consumer groups. This can drive greater exposure of the brand to a broader set of consumers.

Overall going D2C can offer a host of advantages and opportunities for those who know how to capitalise on them and how to utilise technology correctly to offer the best direct consumer experience from marketing to purchase to post purchase.

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