Direct-to-Consumer Brands 2019

How Digital Natives Are Disrupting Traditional Brands and Retailers

Executive Summary

Direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands are on a rapid ascent, disrupting traditional retail. These digitally native brands are experts at cutting out costs and efficiently acquiring customers. They are also succeeding as “brands” in a very traditional sense—by identifying the unmet needs of modern consumers.

  • What’s driving the growth of D2C brands? Estimates peg the number of D2C brands at more than 400 today, while online trends suggest web traffic has roughly doubled in the past two years. Though affordable merchandise is clearly attracting new customers, D2C companies are also building powerful brands that stand for quality and innovation.
  • Which categories are being disrupted by D2C brands? D2C brands have found success with lifestyle categories like apparel, beauty and home furnishings. They are also having an impact on the massive consumer packaged goods category as food and beverage and personal care challenger brands emerge.
  • Which marketing strategies are used by D2C brands? D2C brands have historically relied on performance-based digital advertising strategies. Many leverage Facebook and Instagram to target audiences and direct response podcast ads to drive conversions. Even unconventional business-to-consumer (B2C) tactics like content marketing are being used to go “over the top” of traditional media channels to reach and acquire customers.
  • Why are D2C brands moving from digital to physical retail? With many D2C brands having already established their online customer bases, they are now looking to expand into brick-and-mortar. Many are introducing pop-up stores, partnering with larger retailers and opening their own flagship stores. D2C brands with an already established brick-and-mortar presence are now looking to expand their store footprints while delivering a seamless omnichannel experience.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report explores the growth of D2C brands, why they are resonating with consumers, and how they are disrupting traditional brands and retailers.

KEY STAT: 40% of US internet users expect D2C brands to account for at least 40% of their purchases within the next five years.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. The Growth of Direct-to-Consumer Brands
  3. Direct-to-Consumer Brands Built on Strong Customer Value Propositions
  4. Direct-to-Consumer Brands’ Marketing Playbook
  1. Retail Model Transitions from Clicks to Bricks
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. eMarketer Interviews
  4. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Brian Berger
Mack Weldon
Co-Founder, CEO
Interviewed October 9, 2018
Jesse Derris
Founder, CEO
Interviewed December 7, 2018
Mitch Joel
Six Pixels Group
Founder, President
Interviewed December 13, 2018
Erin Jordan
Walker Sands Communications
Senior Account Director, Partner
Interviewed December 10, 2018
Stephen Kuhl
Co-Founder, CEO
Interviewed September 20, 2018
Nick Ling
Gin Lane
Interviewed December 10, 2018
Aaron Magness
Interviewed October 26, 2018
Dave Morgan
Founder, CEO
Interviewed November 30, 2018
Mohan Ramaswamy
Work & Co
Founding Partner
Interviewed December 13, 2018
Seref Turkmenoglu
Senior Partner
Interviewed December 3, 2018
Nick Virginio
Dollar Shave Club
Senior Brand Development Manager
Interviewed November 9, 2018
Josh Wolff
Vice President, Customer
Interviewed November 2, 2018

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Andrew Lipsman


Rebecca Chadwick
Senior Researcher
Nicole Perrin
Principal Analyst
Amy Rotondo
Research Manager, US
Jillian Ryan
Principal Analyst
Yoram Wurmser
Principal Analyst

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