Modern Marketing Retail World

The future of DTC? Think like a lifestyle brand

By Sol Ghafoor |



The Drum Network article

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February 19, 2021 | 6 min read

The pandemic drove 10 years’ worth of e-commerce growth last year, creating a new reality for all brands. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s the smaller DTC-focused brands which have shown themselves to be better equipped for this new future. And it’s not just because they were born digital first, centred around a single product range, and are adept at acquisition.

Lucas Clarysse

They've shifted the fundamental nature of DTC from being commerce focused to being focused on lifestyle and building long-term relationships. Any experience that helps people achieve their goals is going to be much more memorable.

Given that various lockdowns have disrupted our lives, during idle moments – if there were any – many of us have taken on new hobbies, or taken to pursuing new or old passions. This creates an opportunity for brands to create experiences that deliver meaning into people’s lives by tapping into their aspirations. If you’ve developed a passion for brewing specialty coffee at home, for example, Kurasu Kyoto will inspire you with artful imagery and how-to content series on Instagram, as well as all the kit to buy along with it, of course.

Delivering an experience that's easy and seamless is expected, but what's important is to add a bit of serendipity.

Elevate the purchase experience

We know the consumer’s journey doesn’t begin on a brand’s website, so let's go where their aspirations take them. Let your products find them. The obvious place to start is shoppable social, where you can intelligently surface products before intent to shop has even formed, through curated collections and in-feed experiences.

But thinking outside the frame, the growth of live-streaming on platforms like TikTok around particular passion points – fashion or cooking, for example – gives you the opportunity to turn up somewhere unexpectedly, and within a relevant context. Or think beyond traditional platforms. Klarna set up a virtual store on Animal Crossing featuring products from Marc Jacobs and Valentino.

See fulfillment as a competitive differentiator

Same day, next day delivery and easy returns are expected by consumers. Even special YouTube-worthy unboxing experiences are par for the course. Yet, with packaging, there's an opportunity to merge the digital and physical to gain a competitive edge. One area is connected packaging, where simply using a QR code can hook you up to an intelligent service on WhatsApp, for example. Interacting with it could lead to content that helps you get the most out of the product, or connect you to a Spotify playlist to enjoy that bottle of whisky with. Or even arrange pick up of empty packaging, putting evidence behind your commitment to sustainability.

Create collaborations that connect passion points

Tapping into the collective power of a tribe or community members around your brand is important to create word of mouth to recruit others. One way to do this is to create unexpected collaborations that sit at the intersection of their different passion points. Take Nike's collaboration with Momofuku, a noodle bar chain with a long-standing relationship with the skate community.

The Nike SB team created a much sought-after drop – limited-edition skate shoe called the SB Dunk High Pro Momofuku – tapping into two passion points that make up the lifestyle of the skate community. This approach can extend into everyday products – Colgate collaborated with Supreme to create a limited-edition toothpaste to appeal to a younger audience.

Surface tailored content through an intelligent feed

Creating these experiences requires a deep understanding of your consumers. And in a world where third-party cookies will disappear, the emphasis on first-party data is heightened. Its benefit, of course, is a richer data set to mine insights to create experiences across the funnel. Yet to capture that data, you need people to come to you. One way to do that is to build an intelligent feed on your website that surfaces content and experiences based on consumer interactions. If, for example, you've created a collaboration around sneakers, then the content surfaced shows the back story, or recommended colour ways and designs, and makes it easy to add to basket.

The intelligence you gain can be used to fuel content such as newsletters, social, and identify new partnerships to keep the conversation going long after people have visited your website. By creating value through these intelligent, yet serendipitous experiences people have a reason to come back to you, that goes beyond the product itself.

If you help people achieve their goals with a bit of magic, you'll build long-term and lasting relationships with consumers.

Sol Ghafoor, director of strategic delivery, AnalogFolk

Modern Marketing Retail World

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