Posted: 07 Jul 2020 Contributor: Matthew J Fritschle
Essential Survival Tips For DTC Brands During The Pandemic
There's no way around it: times are tough for everyone at the minute. Retailers, as well as direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, are suffering greatly as a result of the shock brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the sudden upheaval is also bringing out the best from leaders in our industry, as they craft proactive DTC strategies during Coronavirus that focuses on their survival, recovery, and future growth.
Despite increasing the demand for certain products they might be selling, the Coronavirus has revealed the financial issues and supply chains problems that many DTC companies suffer from. Recently companies like Casper and Away have had to furlough or lay off workers in order to preserve cash, Everlane brought in rare discounts to sell inventory and many more have been suffering from the problems brought about since the start of this year.
However, there are still some reasons to be positive, and many ways that DTC survival during COVID-19 can be achieved. It’s not about reinventing DTC models amidst COVID-19, rather it’s about adapting and adjusting to the new normal out there. In this post, we will focus on some tips that DTC brands can follow to survive and thrive during the ongoing pandemic.
DTC Industries That Are Experiencing High Demand
While it might seem all doom and gloom, there are still some bright spots and reasons to be cheerful. Across many sectors and industries, DTC brands are experiencing increasingly high demands for their products. This is especially the case for brands that sell CPG products who have seen massive spikes in sales, alongside brands working together to produce PPE for medical staff and key workers.
Food delivery and retailers have experienced high demands as have a litany of other companies who specialize in eCommerce or have the capacity to currently deliver. With wait times and supply chains affecting even the biggest industry giants, people are now looking to purchase products directly from manufacturers or from DTC brands. This opens the door for many to attract new customers, raise their awareness, increase overall sales and improve their customer loyalty and retention.
Current Trends Regarding DTC Brands During COVID-19
This increased demand has led to many new company DTC strategies during Coronavirus, however it is still important to focus on the key, current trends that are affecting customers to help businesses stay afloat. The trends to focus on right now include:
Authenticity: Many successful DTC brands are incredibly mission-driven. For many, it’s not just about high-quality products or great services; it’s about the impact they are trying to have. DTC brands that succeed do so because of their personality and their authenticity. It’s irrelevant whether they’re focused on disrupting an industry, focused on sustainable initiatives, or focused on removing barriers to entry to products. Nowadays, more than ever with everything going on in the world, users want to see brands take a public stand on important social values, especially when it comes to Millennial and Gen-Z shoppers. Be authentic and honest with your audience throughout every interaction, your customers will thank you for it.
Personalization: Personalized shopping involves an eCommerce brand using previous shopping, search, and browsing history to tailor the way you interact with their products or website. Some brands – particularly those who use the DTC strategy – fully embody the concept of a personalized shopping experience. They let you decide which products you want as parts of a bundle, base potential future purchases of past ones through emails or newsletters and even the items themselves can be personalized. This is increasingly popular for people purchasing gifts or just for those who want a more personal product, but it is clear that if their experience does not feel personal or unique, they will look elsewhere.
Building A Community: A tough economy is not the time to forget about marketing. In fact, all direct to consumers strategies need to be paying close attention to their marketing to help build an engaged community. Focus on appropriate marketing, continue to tweak it and encourage community engagement. While reduced budgets will force brands to sacrifice some of the more expensive mediums, staying engaged with customers is crucial. Authentic community-building is the bedrock of a successful company that helps with both sales and demand. Remember, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain one, therefore nurturing relationships and community engagement is a budget-friendly way to market, something that is now more important than ever before.
Subscriptions: Although perhaps less of a trend, subscription methods are more of a tried-and-true customer retention method with DTC businesses now incorporating subscriptions into their overall business model — either as the main product or as an additional offering. This helps to promote engaged users, build a community, encourage repeat business and help create a more consistent cash flow.
How PepsiCo Is Reaching Consumers
In regards to a specific example of how brands are currently pivoting, PepsiCo has created two sites for its direct-to-consumer offerings that address individual needs as opposed to one site that houses everything. These are PantryShop.com and Snacks.com where the focus is on consumer needs rather than specific products or brands.
PantryShop.com allows consumers to order specialized bundles containing PepsiCo's top-selling favorites from brands including Quaker, Gatorade, and Tropicana within categories such as Rise & Shine, Snacking, and Workout & Recovery. Their other site, Snacks.com, enables shoppers to choose from more than 100 of their favorite Frito-Lay products like Lay's and Tostitos, as well as dips, crackers and nuts. By operating this way with two separate sites PepsiCo are enabling customers to find and buy what they need quickly, reducing the amount of time it takes to make a purchase in which a sale could be lost.
Strategies For DTC Brands To Achieve Success
Alongside this approach of grouping products by individual needs, there are many ways that companies are reinventing the DTC model amidst COVID-19. These include:
- Gathering Useful Data: This will help you make informed business decisions both regarding how to engage with your customers during the COVID-19 outbreak as well as into the future. It will allow you to build marketing campaigns that resonate with your audiences as well as see what products different sections of your audience are drawn too.
- Learn to Listen: Using surveys and questionnaires can be a simple but effective way to communicate with your audience. This feedback allows you to learn and develop while also letting your consumers feel like they are being listened to. Use these insights to inform your brand and create meaningful connections with the customers who matter most.
- Adapt Messaging: Your current messaging likely needs to be different to previous iterations. You need to be more understanding and more aware of the current situation. The world has changed and so your messaging needs to as well. This applies to the imagery you use as well. People want to see that you are reacting to the current situation appropriately and one way to do this is through well thought out messaging that reflects the new normal.
- Become More Human: This is a good time to help your brand become more human and caring. Think about your brand’s characteristics and they can connect and reflect with your consumers current needs. Talk like a human rather than a business and connect on an emotional level rather than just reciting platitudes and positive words that seem empty. Humans innovate and adapt in times of crisis, so does your business.
It is difficult for everyone right now and there aren’t many businesses who will be getting out of this situation unscathed. However, by understanding the important trends of the moment, responding quickly and effectively and following some of essential survival tips, your DTC brand will be able to successfully navigate the difficulties of the ongoing pandemic.