Direct to consumer (D2C) brands have made a huge splash in recent years, proving that business disruptions are still entirely possible on a fundamental level.
From health and wellness to art and fashion, D2C is an undeniable phenomenon, driving change in marketing, sales, customer support, and beyond.
What are some top examples of D2C companies in these important industries, and who are some of the more unexpected D2C players to arrive on the scene? Stay tuned and find out.
Health and Wellness
The demand for health and wellness products is at all-time highs, and D2C brands are reinventing the way we perceive these brands.
App-based mindfulness, meditation, and therapy brands have been a huge hit lately, proving that people are eager to master their bodies and minds.
“Our services help women navigate pregnancy and everything that comes with it,” said Nathalie Walton, Co-Founder and CEO of Expectful. “This type of one-on-one support would have been inaccessible to 99% of people prior to the internet, and direct communication is so vital when dealing with these sensitive issues. It’s a real game-changer for so many people.”
Nutrition and supplement brands are also a D2C staple, as more consumers aim to reclaim their physical fitness and overall health.
“Building trust with people about their health is crucial, because it’s a very personal thing,” said Lance Herrington, Founder, CEO and Head of Design at Unico Nutrition. “This is where we shine as a D2C brand, and where many legacy companies are struggling to make the leap to ecommerce as successfully.”
Many founders are confident that this new approach to business is a positive marker for independent brands, as well as general curiosity and the next wave of holistic health.
“It’s great that people are asking more questions about health and wellness, exchanging information online, forming communities, and seeking alternatives that didn’t exist until recently,” said Inesa Ponomariovaite, Founder of Nesa’s Hemp.
We can’t forget about beauty and skincare brands, which have been a pillar of the D2C movement from the beginning.
“Lots of people, men especially, are happy to not deal with department stores or high-pressure retail environments when shopping for skin products,” said Jeremy Gardner, CEO of MadeMan. “The business model allows us to tap into a whole new market.”
Design and Fashion
If any industry is primed for innovation by D2C marketing and sales, it’s the entire world of design, art, and fashion brands. Any departure from the norm is welcome in these spaces, and opportunities are plentiful for entrepreneurs willing to take the chance.
“Fun and original pop art should be for everyone, and this style of e-commerce offers us a way to bring our work to the masses,” said Alix Greenberg, Founder of ArtSugar.
Fashion brands are taking a similar approach with clothes, making products that are simple, accessible, and genuine. “By selling directly to the customer, we have way more control over the actual products, and can offer them at lower prices,” said Sabrina Pereira, Head of Growth Marketing at EasyStandard. “It’s a win-win for everyone, and we’ll see more companies taking this route in the future.”
Art and design can be functional as well. Even industries like home storage and tableware are getting a breath of fresh air from the D2C revolution – and innovators leading the charge.
“Our idea for a cannabis storage system was made possible by our own ingenuity and the customers that support us,” said Stori Founder and COO Karina Karassev. “That’s the amazing part of D2C business – no gatekeepers getting in your way. It’s all on you!”
Going 100% independent has its risks, but for many entrepreneurs, that’s exactly how they prefer to operate.
“We were able to break through a competitive industry by making great products and selling them directly at appealing prices,” said Daniel Seehoff, CEO of Sophistiplate. “D2C allows you to cut through so much of the red tape and obstacles of the traditional business model.”
Some industries don’t get as much time in the spotlight, or have maybe slowed down in terms of innovation.
But now that the D2C business model has taken over, it’s time for some much-needed reinvention in unlikely places.
“The promise of D2C is really what drives consumers to the channel,” said Joe Megibow, CEO of Purple. “It’s a very customer-centric channel – or the intent is for it to be customer-centric – which means less friction, easier ways to buy, and essentially building something that’s servicing how the newer consumer wants to engage with brands.”
With the flexibility of the D2C philosophy, we’re also seeing ideas for businesses that take full advantage of cutting-edge technology and the demand for new media.
“Before D2C was widely accepted, the timeline to bring something new and original to the marketplace was much longer,” said Woody Sears, Founder of HearHere. “Our concept for geographic-based content was a passion project made real by people with strong beliefs and talent. That’s how business should work – bringing big ideas to life without the pressure of so many stakeholders.”
The freedom to experiment is definitely an appealing part of the D2C concept. Even industries with traditional business models are using D2C tactics to boost their marketing efforts.
“Any type of healthcare or cosmetic procedure can be intimidating, and so we want people to feel super comfortable and confident with us,” said Dr. Jae Pak, Founder of Jae Pak, MD. “We’ve applied new marketing concepts based on authentic communication, transparency, and a real connection with clients.”
Finally, D2C represents a saving grace for industries that were struggling in the wake of big-box retail takeovers, like book publishing and distribution.
“Verso has spent years developing its D2C ecommerce business to its enthusiastic and supportive readers, so that last year it was already responsible for one-third of our sales,” said Rowan Wilson, UK Director of Verso Books. “As soon as the situation with the lockdown and the book trade developed, our marketing and publicity teams devoted all their energies to our D2C sales.”
Innovation takes many forms, and as you can see, there’s plenty of it to go around thanks to the surge of direct-to-consumer businesses throughout the economy.
In nearly every industry, the D2C approach is making its mark – will you be the next entrepreneur to spark disruption and move things forward?