Direct to Consumer: A New Playbook for Successful Consumer Marketing
October 01, 2019
Consumer marketing is undergoing a massive transformation. Upstart direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are challenging the status quo with strategies that rely heavily on digital channels to package products and experiences for consumers. In case you missed it, we recently released complementary content to this playbook on the AW360 website here, that is an amazing precursor to this post.
For the sixth year in a row, Seraj Bharwani, our Chief Strategy Officer, moderated the Advertising Week CMO Panel. This year was one of our most successful to date with the CMOs of leading DTC brands. Here are key insights from the panel discussion entitled “Direct to Consumer: A New Playbook for Successful Consumer Marketing,” with reference to related industry research.
Keys to Success for Brands
Offer a breakthrough proposition
Consumers are looking to do things differently. The amount of dissatisfaction with current shopping models and offers is clear. Tarte Cosmetics pioneered the concept of organic personal care that is beautiful, and which makes customers proud of using it. Here are Stephanie Urban, VP eCommerce from Tarte’s thoughts:
“From the beginning we’ve been about cruelty free, ‘good for you’ ingredients, and making beautiful packaging that people love … our CEO’s ideology is that we should always be innovative, agile and relevant.”
Deliver a seamless experience
Gil Efrati, the CMO of Resident Home discussed the keys to success for his business. Understanding that his is a hard product to buy and consumers are doing more research than ever across channels. You never know which channel in your consumer marketing strategy is going to be the ‘zero moment of truth’ where they make the decision, so you have to be on all channels.
“We started off as a single brand mattress company, there were about 140 mattress brands in the space… the way we were able to rise above the noise is because of efficient performance marketing. We have a very talented team of very smart and hardworking people, ‘growth hackers’, I don’t like that term, but it just means people who are able to find a way to achieve sustainable growth over time. The multi-channel, multi-layer approach with very strong data architecture so we can track the consumer journey across all the touch points.”
Understanding the impact of each channel on the story, persona, market share and target audience are critical to telling an engaging story and pushing your message across.
The topic of efficient performance marketing was echoed in another Ad Week panel and cited recently on Ad Age here.
Create an acquisition machine
The American Lung Association taught us that even though your company may not be in the for-profit business, that doesn’t mean your marketing doesn’t need to be sophisticated. Julia Fitzgerald, CMO of ALA shared:
“Not-for-profits are notorious for not having automated marketing, and websites that convert. So, we’ve had to take a look at what was in place for conversion and upgrading it.”
She jokingly calls her website, ‘the conversion machine’ because it shows your brand to everyone 24/7. It has to make people feel something about you and it also has to encourage someone to take the actions you want them to.
Further, back to Gil from Resident, we learned the importance of understanding the lifetime value (LTV) of the customer and what the customer needs. Part of their consumer marketing efforts is delivering customers a survey after purchase to find out what else the customer would want to buy from them. A lot of the brand and product roadmap is based on what they hear from their customers.
Build a brand story
Taking the American Lung Association as an example, the organization has changed from multiple charters to a single focused organization. The key is understanding the brand narrative, what pulls the brand messaging together and allows you to connect those messages with the right consumer.
CMO Julia Fitzgerald explains, “In order to do this, the brand has to start from somewhere, and the American Lung Association has decided to connect on a social issue that is current today, kids vaping. This is an area where they wanted to lend their voice and do this in a direct to consumer way. As we try to reach our audiences, we have to know who our audience is in order to make an impact. We are much more credible with parents, so we focused on getting the message to the parents.”
Make a difference with social good
Each of our panelists were leading the way with a ‘social good’ purpose, but none quite like Genomind, whose president, Kip Olmstead described the business as follows:
“Our brand had been a traditional direct-to-doctor business but when we looked at the “fruits and the roots” of the brand, we looked at what consumers were saying and based on that we created a culture of our brand… we believe the time is now to take action in mental health, we are going to try to create the ‘just do it’ movement, for mental health.”
Listen to his part here where he provides more detail about this emotional experience for him that has driven the purpose of his brand: