Much has been said about what traditional brands can learn from the nimble, data-driven and evermore pervasive direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands dominating Instagram and Facebook feeds. Brands like Casper, Warby Parker, Harry’s and others have shown an ability to build brands on social media platforms in a way that’s making traditional brands turn around and think… why can’t we do that?
While there is much traditional brands can borrow from the DTC approach to connecting with audiences, DTC brands are taking more than a couple pages from the playbooks of traditional brands. In the process, they’re reinforcing the relevance of some legacy tactics that have been speculated to be on the way out.
Physical Billboards and Webrooming
Everyone from Warby Parker to Away to Nest Bedding and even Casper are opening up physical retail stores and no longer relying on digital channels as their only means of selling.
Fashion retailer Eloquii refers to these stores as “shoppable billboards,” and that description appears to be apt. Physical stores give customers confidence that they can purchase online, and these DTC brands have seen their online sales grow in markets with physical stores by as much as 40%. Now, that’s partially because the stores are opened in markets that already have an engaged consumer base. Still, it’s clear that physical stores play a role in instilling confidence, establishing legitimacy and achieving scale with consumers looking for tactile experiences.
Physical stores tap into another consumer behavior—webrooming. Webrooming is basically the opposite of showrooming. It involves consumers doing their research online before looking to make a purchase at a physical retail location. Four in 10 Millennials engage in webrooming, which speaks to the necessity of retailers adopting omnichannel strategies. Being available only online or only in physical locations isn’t enough, even for DTC brands.
Coming Back to Traditional Media
I’m all about the power of digital marketing, but it alone isn’t enough more often than not. In 2018, DTC brands spent $2 billion in television, and more than half of the brands being tracked invested in TV for the first time.
These brands are looking for new audiences outside of social channels, and as CPMs go up on platforms like Facebook, DTC brands are looking elsewhere. Networks are obliging with many like NBC offering inventory that’s addressable and targeted. Essentially, they’re looking for ways to offer DTC brands the targeting they got accustomed to in digital channels.
The old is new again in a lot of ways. DTC brands have shown a propensity to teach traditional retailers new tricks online, but as they grow, they’re looking at traditional stalwarts and finding ways to make use of them.