“Dude, you’re getting a Dell.” Remember how cool the dot com age was, when you could first order things directly from manufacturers’ websites? Today, direct-to-consumer brands are once again getting a lot of attention. DTC or D2C brands are all the the rage right now!

Why? DTC brands are disrupting markets and making everyday use products more accessible. Most specialize in one product category. Many play well into the subscription-based models that are also popular right now.

For example, Dollar Shave Club is a direct-to-consumer brand based solely around razors. 1) It promotes one thing: razors. 2) It disrupted an old industry. 3) It allows a monthly subscription for ease of accessibility. Plus, it has a pretty slick slogan, “Shave time. Shave money.” Their ad copy looks great on out-of-home media formats, too.

Additional direct-to-consumer brands you’ve certainly heard of include:

  • Hims
  • Rothy’s
  • Birchbox
  • Away
  • Warby Parker
  • Bonobos
  • Everlane

There are many more (see list of top 250 here).

Direct-to-consumer brands are rising again thanks to a number of reasons. Retail stores are on the decline, and DTC brands continue to challenge the middleman. Technology’s infrastructure can support the DTC ecommerce model and deliver efficiencies across manufacturing and marketing. The speed of delivery has also benefited from technology advancements over the past two decades. Today’s consumers are price conscious, and products no longer require the wholesaler and retailer markups before it goes to market. An easy in-app “reorder” button makes interacting with the brand seamless.

Not to mention, consumers seek out great brand experiences. To have their consumer packaged goods auto-shipped to their house without having to remember to pick it up at the store does save them stress, time and money.

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DTC are today’s challenger brands, turning markets upside down and going head-to-head with longtime leaders.

For direct-to-consumer brands, getting the right reach in promotion can be challenging. Most turn instinctively to social media, search, display advertising and online marketplaces, such as Amazon, to get the word out. But the more successful DTC brands understand that brand awareness in the real world increases reach…and credibility.

Enter: out-of-home media.

OOH media is well-trusted, offers a big presence in the physical world, is a strong media choice for brand awareness and allows for massive reach and scale. OOH media can also be a lot of different things, from movie theaters and airports to subway cars and buses, there are so many opportunities for placement.

direct-to-consumer brands

Drinkfinity, a DTC beverage pod maker, embraced out-of-home in key neighborhoods across Brooklyn and New York City. They set out to reach those 24 – 35 years old who are enthusiasts for the environment, social issues and/or health and fitness. They employed a mobile billboard, a field marketing team and a sampling van to raise awareness and distribute over 10,000 starter kits.

This 9-day promotion generated 9,000 leads. Drinkfinity re-marketed to these leads through email and online channels. What’s more, the out-of-home campaign proved highly successful for brand awareness metrics. They achieved:

  • +199% branded searches during activation
  • 27% cost per qualified visit
  • +141% qualified visits when comparing pre- and during-activation visits

The Drinkfinity advertising campaign also integrated mobile display ads and social media.

direct-to-consumer brands

OOH media is effective at creating online engagement. OOH delivers more online activity per dollar spent compared to TV, radio and print. OOH drives online searches, web visits and social activity better than any other channel. For ecommerce brands, this correlation should spark an interest.

The emerging direct-to-consumer brands that are grabbing attention today are digitally native. But that doesn’t mean that every encounter they have with their audience needs to be through a screen. Some ideas are too bold to stay trapped online.

asper, known for its early brand activations, has grown through its presence at cultural events. What started as strictly a dot com has since, however, evolved to direct selling at Casper’s own retail locations. Within these brick and mortar locations, Casper can learn from direct customer interactions and continue to shape their brand. The human-to-human engagement is propelling Casper into the future.

Out-of-home media offers many exciting opportunities for direct-to-consumer brands.

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I tip my hat to Grandma, who embraced the D2C spirit long before it was labeled D2C. Gram knew the convenience of having her Avon cosmetics delivered routinely to her doorstep. Her Tupperware brought to her house by a dear friend. And oh how she anxiously awaited those direct mail catalogs to arrive in her mailbox. I wonder if Gram knows that DTC is trending!

While direct-to-consumer brands are not revolutionary, they are revolutionizing many industries. To incorporate an integrated media plan for your DTC marketing, please request a proposal.