Direct-to-Consumer Brands To Watch Out For In 2020
Have you listened to a podcast in the last year? If so, you’ve probably heard ads for countless Direct-to-Consumer brands — brands that sell directly to the consumer, cutting out middlemen like wholesalers or third-party retailers. And they also happen to thrive in podcast advertisements. Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brands aren’t all small, podcast-ad-buying startups — DTC brands that have become industry staples include Warby Parker, Harry’s, Reformation, Glossier Cosmetics, even Uber and Tesla. New DTC brands seem to be popping up so often that it can be hard to keep track of the key players. Here’s our roundup of DTC brands that are success stories in the making.
The trendy, all-natural footwear company from New Zealand launched in only 2016, but by the end of the decade Allbirds shoes had become a staple of hipsters’ wardrobes everywhere. The wool sneakers are not only fashionable and durable — they’re also more sustainable than pretty much any other sneaker on the market. In a time where people are thinking hard about where their clothes come from — and what happens to them after they’re worn out — Allbirds is a perfect brand to reach eco-friendly consumers.
Smile Direct Club
Health and wellness is a category rife with DTC brands, and teeth are no exception. SmileDirectClub makes clear aligners (similar to Invisalign) using molds that consumers mail to them, then sends out trays that slowly align their teeth. It’s a great alternative to adults on-the-go who don’t want the juvenile look of traditional braces, or don’t have time for regular orthodontist appointments. The smart, convenient product combined with a large ad spend (SmileDirectClub had the highest advertising budget among DTC brands in 2019) has made SmileDirectClub a rising star in the healthcare industry.
It’s all in the name. This brand’s CBD gummies contain zero THC and are legal in all 50 states, making them perfect for eCommerce — like many other DTC brands, Not Pot’s products are only sold online. CBD was one of the hottest commodities of the past year, but can be hard to find in some areas of the country. Not Pot is seizing a valuable opportunity to offer consumers all over the United States CBD products that they can trust, while amping up the fun-factor with quirky, playful branding.
Billie is the hip, girl-powered cousin of brands like Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club. In summer 2019, Billie achieved widespread recognition and set themselves from other shaving brands by doing the unthinkable — celebrating women’s body hair. This progressive approach to hair removal has made Billie a strong contender among other female-centric brands, as many women have felt that razor ads are unrealistic and cater to men. With Billie, women can say goodbye to brands that only depict razors being used to shave already-hairless legs.
Because these DTC brands work independently from a middleman, they have a lot more freedom to do what they want — and as we’ve seen with many of these brands, that often means giving niche (or not-so-niche) consumers exactly what they want. This approach is often reflected in their branding — notice how each of these DTC brands use rounded typefaces, with all-lowercase logos. These careful branding decisions contribute to a personal, friendly feel that makes the consumer feel more connected to the brand.
While not all DTC brands share these branding elements, this pattern hints at the approachable and customer-focused nature of this business model. The DTC model has proven to be a successful formula for countless amazing brands, and it’ll be exciting to see which brands become staples in the 2020s and beyond.