The inside-out perspective: Capability and communication
The internal perspective is critical to determining whether your brand should invest in Direct-to-consumer. Once you’ve mapped out what DTC could mean for your current business model and growth trajectory, the next step is a mindset change.
DTC is more than an opportunistic maneuver for channel expansion. Conquering the complexities can pay dividends beyond simply increasing sales. It can create a vivid and measurable sense of what your business is capable of doing for consumers.
Just look at how these brands have used Direct-to-consumer to differentiate and create immediate value:
Tesla’s DTC angle: Own the customer experience
Key message: Unlike most automotive brands, Tesla’s concerns extend beyond your experience with their cars. They want you to have a phenomenal and empowering experience at every touchpoint along the car buyer/owner journey. What’s more, they invite consumers to join them in shaping the future of transportation and transitioning to sustainable energy.
Warby Parker’s DTC angle: Cut out the middleman
Key message: Warby Parker has a simple yet compellingly consumer-centric proposition: “We’re bypassing the middlemen so we can reduce your cost for essential eyewear from $700 to $95.” They went one step further in a way that was ahead of their time: consumers want choice, speed, and value, but they also want brands that make them feel good about their choices. Warby Parker’s “Buy a pair, give a pair” scheme further cemented their appeal and regard in the market.
M&M’s DTC angle: Personalization and customization
Key message: There’s no need to fight over the blue M&M’s when you can order an all-blue pack – you can even get your initials on them for good measure.
4Moms.com’s DTC angle: Enhanced service
Key message: While 4Moms sells direct and through retailers, they handle repair and replacement parts for their products directly with consumers. This continued engagement shows that they care about the customer’s experience.
Dollar Shave Club’s DTC angle: Simple and sticky subscription model
Key message: Consumers were fed up with the traditional retail experience of buying razors, from pricing to buying replacements. Dollar Shave Club reduced (and capitalized on) this friction by providing value, curation, easy deliveries, and time that would otherwise be spent in drugstore aisles – all for a simple monthly fee. (The viral video that launched the brand didn’t hurt, either.)
Most companies who aren’t selling Direct-to-consumer today start their DTC journey by focusing on big picture motivations, such as “We need to be where our customers are,” “We want to own the customer relationships,” “We want the customer data,” or “We can increase profits.”
However, by changing your mindset around what Direct-to-consumer really means and refining its role in your brand growth strategy, a more interesting picture emerges. DTC isn’t just about selling direct. It can directly facilitate:
- More trials and experiments – meaning greater opportunities for product and service innovation.
- Faster learnings – meaning increased efficiencies and being able to adapt to change quickly and effectively.
- Direct consumer feedback – meaning higher consumer satisfaction rates in real time, increasing brand loyalty, and building a sense of community.
All of this can have substantial influence on multiple business areas, including product development, sales and marketing, and customer service. Rather than just using it to push existing products, you can use this direct channel to fundamentally enhance or change your business as a whole. It’s there to be leveraged, providing entirely new ways to communicate with consumers, connect with their diverse needs, and run your organization.