March 22, 2021 by John Herrington in Strategy

Why DTC is the next step for Marketers- if they play it smart

2020’s 15 fastest growing direct to consumer brands saw 364% growth over the course of last year. Youth to the People, a superfood skincare brand with a focus on social justice, took first place by a long shot. And honestly, who can compete with that? Superfood, skincare AND social justice? Let me hear all the millennials and Gen Z kids say ‘amen.’

The uncertainty of 2020 created an almost ideal landscape for the DTC market. Consumers craved community, familiarity, and a sense of trust. Gyms closed and treadmills felt sterile, so people flocked to the Peloton family. Bars shut down and beer seemed cheap, so Haus turned homebodies into bartenders. Cardio, booze, kale and moisturizer- these brands took into account the customer and their convenience. Imagine that.

According to the new year’s buzz, marketing agencies are now taking a stab at developing their own DTC products. I must admit, the logic makes sense. A ton of these shops have years of experience developing DTC brand strategies. Why not develop the same strategies for themselves? Why not give the playmaker a chance to play? (Go sports.) Time will tell how the adman competes in the production lines. Biggest takeaway for now- it’s not just the market for DTC that’s appealing, it’s the strategy behind them. Highly personalized and highly convenient.

“If the brand experience isn’t highly personalized and relevant, and delivering highly customized experiences online and offline, be afraid…Brands that fail to embrace the concept that every brand touch-point builds brand loyalty are closer to their demise.”

Cue the dun dun dun. Sounds dramatic, but let the dead speak for themselves. The brands that are no more and has beens lost sight of these very things. Without a focus on the customer and the customer experience, your brand is as good as gone (nicer word for dead).

But don’t forget the fine print.

New ventures come with sacrifice and risk. Say your marketing agency does make the move toward DTC product development. And say your product does really well. Fine, it’s straight fire. But how ever much talent and how ever many resources you’ve dedicated to your own DTC, you’ve pulled away from the agency. And when buzz starts to fade or heaven forbid, the product simply flops, where does that leave your agency? I’ll answer for you. Potentially, it leaves your shop screwed. The lesson here is to play it smart. Throwing all your chips in toward a new product is just plain stupid IF you haven’t taken the time to properly allocate your resources.

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