Direct-to-consumer disruption: changing the face of marketing

From beauty to fashion, direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing is revolutionizing all industries. Consumers no longer trust brands and reaching them is harder than ever. Audiences are fragmented and influencers replaced the trusted voices of yesterday. To reconnect with their customers, brands need to adopt new strategies and ways to communicate in this post-advertising age.

While established companies struggle to catch up, indie brands are winning at the marketing game. Not only their products answer the consumers’ increasingly complex needs and tastes (sustainable, fair-trade, cruelty-free, gender-neutral, etc.) at an affordable price, they have also found a different way to approach them. By focusing their efforts on social media and influencers, indie brands seem closer and more authentic to their customers, two essential qualities the modern consumer is looking for.

Octoly studied the most successful influencer marketing strategies of more than 15 indie beauty and fashion brands and compiled them into one playbook. How do these newcomers reshape the culture and dynamics of the industry? How do they leverage the power of influencers? How to stand out amongst the competition? Discover the key lessons we've learned from these brands.


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What are the benefits of direct-to-consumer marketing?

So why is direct-to-consumer marketing so popular right now? How do indie brands use it to their advantage and why established companies turn to DTC more and more? Consider the main arguments in the DTC favor and decide how your brand can learn from them.

Direct-to-consumer marketing gives consumers a new experience

When selling through a distributor, whether online or IRL, you don’t control the way your product will be displayed and presented to the customer. Will it be highlighted so the shoppers see it straight away? What terms will they use to describe it? What other products will surround it? All of these factors can play into the consumer’s decision to buy your product, or not. To top it off, selling through a third party isn’t cheap, which can be an important obstacle for indie brands. Especially since creating your own website is easier and cheaper than ever.

Direct-to-consumer marketing allows you to design an experience that reflects your values, the quality of your product and most importantly the tastes and needs of your customers. In the age of Amazon where pretty much anything can be delivered to your door in a day, a personalized experience can make a difference. All of the direct-to-consumer brands in the playbook have found their perfect formula for success: Glossier’s pink and grammable packaging, Frank Body’s sense of humor or DECIEM’s outsider position. Think about your brand, what makes you special? How can you translate it into an experience for your customers?

Direct-to-consumer brands build a relationship with their customers

What a lot of the indie brands in the playbook understood early on, is the importance of a strong relationship with the customer. Thanks to social media, clients and prospects can contact brands directly with questions and feedback. In return, brands can not only respond instantly but also improve potential weak points. Did you notice that people contact you on Twitter because they struggle finding the tracking number for their orders? Just make it more visible in your confirmation emails or on their accounts. Problem solved!

Besides people love hearing back from brands and feeling like they’re being heard. Like and comment on their posts when your product is featured. It makes them feel special and creates a closer bond with the brand, which is one of the reasons they’ll come back. There is another way to make them come back and that’s data.

Collecting data to get your customers what they want

Your website’s analytics and social media channels are a trove of invaluable information just waiting to be mined. When done right, it can give you a window into your customer’s life and habits and create a personalized experience just for them. There are the obvious personalized product recommendations, loyalty programs, and promo codes, but you can go beyond.

Consider Glossier: The beauty disruptor created a Slack channel for its top clients where it simply asked them: what do you need? This led to such a great amount of feedback that the brand created a whole new product in partnership with its customers. Don’t try to guess what your customers need. Ask them. Take the time to listen and genuinely try to find a solution for them. Not only will it drive sales because you’ll have a product people need, but it will also create a stronger bond between your brand and your clientele based on trust.

If you’re not ready for a survey, why not start with Instagram Stories? You have a staple dress in your collection and want to release new colors for next seasons? Ask your followers what they prefer. You’re sure to sell the item and your customers will feel more engaged with your brand. And what better way to turn them into long-term fans?

Social media and influencers: reaching your audience in a new way

One of the biggest changes brands had to face with the development of social networks is, of course, the rise of the influencers. What happens when anyone has the potential to become one thanks to platforms like Instagram and YouTube? Well, brands lose control over their message. This is where the micro-influencer comes in.

With a following varying from 5,000 to 100,000 fans, micro-influencers focus on a niche topic. When they mention a product, it is generally because they genuinely enjoy it. Their followers trust their recommendations like they would that of a friend and direct-to-consumer brands use that to their advantage. Small following but a great engagement rate, this is what micro-influencers offer. Instead of activating only a couple of big names, indie brands can work with hundreds of micro-influencers at scale.

Working with micro-influencers at scale can also give you the opportunity to target specific audiences. Let’s say you have a beauty line. You’ll want people interested in makeup to hear about it. By gifting your product to 50 miro-influencers, with channels dedicated to makeup and beauty, who have a small yet loyal and engaged audience, you’ll reach your target customer. There are chances they’ll convert too since your product answers a need they have.

That’s the micro-influencer marketing strategy that high-rocketed Anastasia Beverly Hills to the top. The American makeup brand relies on thousands of YouTubers and Instagrammers to reviews their products. This fan-centric approach helps in creating a strong relationship between the brand and its customers.

Direct-to-consumer brands rely on all these different ways to attract and retain customers. Don’t want to stay behind? Join the micro-influencer marketing revolution and learn from the most successful direct-to-consumer brands with our playbook.