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The key success factors of D2C

Romain Ledru-Mathe
Published on
December 22, 2021
This is the fourth article in a series of 8 regarding direct-to-consumer. An article will be published each week.

The D2C strategies that work are those that focus on what major retailers like Amazon have chosen to leave out: an aspirational and engaging brand image, and a memorable customer experience . These are the two key elements of a successful model, each of which breaks down into several key factors.

An aspirational and engaging brand image

The first difference with traditional brands distributed in stores lies in the way of making themselves known, which is much more targeted, and in the nature of the messages conveyed to a community of committed customers.

Branding vs. targeted marketing

Brands traditionally invest in mass and untargeted advertising (branding on very wide channels) in order to create in-store traffic or to be spotted on the shelves. Conversely, a direct-to-consumer strategy involves speaking directly to consumers interested in your product. Promoting your brand therefore requires data-driven marketing : customer acquisition is carried out through targeted and personalized campaigns, in particular via social networks, while customers are retained through activation campaigns (CRM, newsletters, promotions ). Customer data is therefore a central element of any D2C strategy.

Aspirational and engaging messages

Beyond targeting, it is necessary to create a connection with its consumers or users , so that they feel touched by the brand's messages, and themselves become ambassadors. This is particularly true for the younger generations, who are very sensitive to the values ​​carried by brands.

This requires a gradual change in branding, now often embodied by role models or influencers, who exchange daily with their followers, alternating advice and product placements. Some influencers, strong in these very committed communities, have thus launched clothing or cosmetics brands which are now distributed in classic store chains. We can cite the example of the cosmetics brand Huda Beauty , created in 2013 by a beauty influencer with 40 million followers, or that of the clothing brand of Chiara Ferragni , an Italian influencer who distributes her products online and in all concept stores of the world.

With or without an influencer, brands must position themselves in the niche of authenticity and transparency , in order to create a close relationship with consumers. Some thus detail the origin of the products (such as the Joone diaper brand which makes it possible to monitor the manufacture of its products in real time), the choice of packaging or delivery methods (such as the Hint brand which explains in detail the process of selection of the plastic for its containers ) or supported charitable initiatives (such as the Fiji water brand ).

Finally, D2C strategies are often based on communities of fans and involved users and ambassadors , for example by basing product developments on user feedback or by creating regular opportunities for discussion on social networks. For example, the LEGO brand has created a site where fans can submit model proposals. Projects reaching 10,000 votes are then reviewed and developed by the LEGO teams. This approach allows the brand to renew itself in the eyes of a younger generation who wish to participate in its development.

This approach turned out to be particularly relevant during confinement in Europe in particular: many brands hosted lives on Instagram by offering activities (sports lessons, children's activities, etc.) or quality content (expert interviews , methods, etc.) to maintain the link with their communities and create engagement from a distance.

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