Digital disruption of retail has picked up pace in 2017, with apparel brands seemingly taking their turn in the eye of the storm in recent weeks. Levi’s, Nike, and North Face owner VF have become the latest in a long line of global brands who – traditionally relying on retailers – have shared plans to seek growth in the hotly contested and fast growing direct-to-consumer market (DTC).

It’s easy to see why cutting out the middlemen and creating direct, loyal relationships with customers using new digital means is attractive to many brands. There does appear to be significant rewards for those that get it right. However, it can be a challenge, especially for brands who have not traditionally thought about fulfilment.

Reflecting on our conversations with consumers, and looking at the success of DTC brands like Dollar Shave Club and Birchbox, we’ve identified ‘six ‘golden rules’ for brands to create strong partnerships with customers. Over the next two weeks we’ll be unveiling them on our blog, complete with video clips from marketeers and designers working on the frontline of DTC.

 

DTC

 

Rule one: build and maintain trust

Any brand’s offer must ideally convey clarity and honesty right from the first moment of truth, when initially encountering the brand, and subsequently, at every touchpoint. But the DTC model demands an even closer relationship with their customer than the traditional retailer – they are privy to precious sales data, as well as personal information like home address & bank details – so a responsible image is even more vital. This need for trust is even more important when there’s no bricks’n’mortar retail store to stress test credibility.

This is especially important in markets where doubt exists in buying online (fake brands and a worrisome postal service) . A consumer who took part in one of The Big Picture’s qualitative probes into attitudes to DTC explained that a brand following the Netflix or Birchbox model, which expects consumers to commit to a monthly sign-up from the get-go is “a lot to ask of a new relationship.”

Santiago Navarro of Garçon Wines says his brand plans to build up trust quickly by demonstrating consistent reliability. Their market research shows potential consumers love the idea of subscribing to a regular supply of wine, delivered through the letterbox, because it’s convenient to receive. Specifically, because they’re able to trust Garçon to deliver the number of bottles of wine they like to drink each week, it’s one thing on their list that they don’t need to think or plan for.

 

 

Check back on Wednesday to read part two.