How direct-to-consumer brands are reshaping marketing & customer engagement: Bharat Sethi, Founder Rage Coffee
D2C brands have a considerable edge against their traditional competitors, writes Sethi.
Today, the global market dynamics are changing rapidly, if they haven’t changed already. Digital adoption is at an all-time high and has now reached an inflection point with the COVID-19 outbreak. More people are preferring to purchase their goods and services online rather than visiting a physical outlet. Incidentally, this market development has opened a fresh avenue of growth for businesses. They can now reach out to their customers directly, generate superior engagement amongst target audiences, and receive first-hand insights about likes and preferences.
Here, Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) brands have a considerable edge against their traditional competitors. Let’s find out how.
Digital, Direct, Delightful: The Rise of a New Era of D2C Marketing
The ever-increasing digital traction might seem to be a byproduct of the COVID-19 outbreak. HBharat Sethi, Founder Rage Coffee owever, the pandemic has only catalyzed an ongoing market activity. According to a study, over one-third of consumers reported buying directly from the manufacturer’s website last year. 40% of them believed that about two-fifths of their purchases will be directed to D2C brands in the next five years. And, this happened much before COVID-19 came into the picture.
The direct-to-consumer brand movement has taken the Indian business ecosystem by storm. A sudden rush of D2C brands has redefined how products are sold while also fostering a close customer-brand relationship. After all, each article sold is an opportunity to interact with an engaged audience.
There’s a reason why this approach is more effective. A strong and consistent brand identity aligns the customers to a single messaging. Marketing is hence built into the product itself. It goes without saying that the messaging can only be around what any particular product offers. For instance, a sugar-laced, artificial-flavoring-based beverage can not market itself as a natural health drink. The products are moreover branded in a way to be more visually tempting for modern retail customers, especially the millennial audience. This is why we see D2C players creating products with a distinct DNA. Only fundamentally differentiated products and category leaders will eventually win the marketing wars online.
However, there’s more to it than what meets the eye. The digital approach enables brands to lead a data-driven marketing strategy. Leveraging this approach, they can create customer funnels, feedback loops, and gauge consumer insights as well as behaviors across wide-ranging digital channels. Earlier, each of these activities used to take months if not years for a business. Now, all of it happens in real-time and in a more coherent fashion than it ever used to.
The traditional retail landscape was previously also reliant on distributors. Extensive internet and smartphone penetration have helped businesses to deal directly with their consumers through proprietary digital touchpoints and eCommerce platforms. In fact, it eliminates the need for middlemen and brings down the cost of distribution. Hence, brands are able to provide attractive incentives to their channel partners while also making the products more cost-effective for the end-customers.
Online word of mouth is also the strongest and cheapest form of marketing for any D2C brand. It could be anything from an Instagram story update to a tweet on Twitter. Such engagements have a lasting impact on current and prospective customers as well as their purchase decisions. It naturally makes a strong social media presence an imperative for D2C brands.
Effective customer interactions and brand pull can be generated by creating a unique identity over social media. Clever, shareable, and viral-ready content helps brands in scaling reach and revenue much faster than traditional retail. Storytelling strategies also work well and help build relations with target groups swifter than conventional means. However, the true power of social media is yet to be unlocked for growth. Social Media Marketing and Performance Marketing have to be cracked effectively in order to generate higher traction.
Lastly, in today’s ever-digitizing world, being close to each customer has become essential. The tech-driven approach makes it possible to reach out to customers with a hyper-personalized strategy using WhatsApp, Email, SMS, and Instagram alongside other platforms. This way, the pulse of the market is also gauged faster than conventional means.
In a nutshell, D2C brands are ahead of the curve in all these regards. So, they are better poised to actively reshape marketing and customer engagements in today’s day and age.
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