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Brand Insight

VMLY&R Launches D2C DNA, Book Exploring Direct-to-Consumer Brands

Book explains the new DNA that legacy brands must develop to compete in modern retail

VMLY&R Launches D2C DNA, Book Exploring Direct-to-Consumer Brands

VMLY&R, in association with Kantar, announced today the release of D2C DNA, a book that explores and explains the 23 characteristics, traits and principles that comprise the full DNA of the world’s most successful direct-to-consumer brands.

The meteoric rise of direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands has captivated the retail industry in recent years. Brands like Warby Parker, Glossier and Away are among the 3,500 new D2C brands that have sprung up in every economic sector. These nimble, digital-native brands have raised an estimated $4 billion in capital in the U.S. alone, and are emerging as significant competitors to traditional retailers.

As D2C is hailed as the future of commerce, this book is a resource for all retail brands, outlining the takeaways and lessons learned from D2C brands that legacy enterprise brands can apply to their own businesses.

The book asserts that D2C is a set of skills to be developed – not simply a business unit or channel. Brands who view D2C as merely a channel strategy are oversimplifying and missing the value of the underlying trend in a big way. It’s not about developing distribution; it’s about developing customer centricity and corporate culture.

“D2C entrants are seeing such success because they understand the value of data and detail to the lived experience of the brand, and they prioritize the importance of stories and experiences to develop true customer advocacy,” said Andy Heddle, head of VMLY&R’s Direct-to-Consumer Retail Practice. “Legacy brands must pay attention to these principles. They cannot simply invent and broadcast them. They have to create a culture of commitment and collaboration that is dedicated to moving quickly in the direction of customer satisfaction.”

The book is authored by Andy Heddle and Zac Kraemer, Director of Retail and Channel. Malcom Pinkerton, Vice President eCommerce and Digital Insights at Kantar also contributed.

The full outline of characteristics – 23 in total to reflect the number of chromosomes in DNA – is below. The book can be downloaded here.

The 23 characteristics of D2C DNA:

• D2C is a Mission...and customers are buying missions, not just products

• D2C is a Mindset...companies are rethinking market structures and products through a 21st century lens

• D2C Begins and Ends with “C”...and D2C brands are maniacally focused on the end-to-end customer experience

• D2C is Mobile…and are mobile first in every dimension of communication and transaction

• D2C is a Skill…not a business unit

• D2C Brands Live R&D…they exist to develop, test and redevelop new compelling experiences

• D2C Brands Dote on Data…by creating data that informs them on customer preferences and reactions

• D2C Brands Deliver on Detail...not just about product attributes but also every aspect of the experience

• D2C Brands are “Storysellers”...they connect with their customers through a shared, developing story

• D2C Brands Don’t Sell Products… they sell experiences and community

• D2C Brands Aren’t in it for the Money… they first seek to engender deep engagement to gain transformational insights

• D2C Brands are Loyalty Companies… who create lifetime value for their customers and themselves

• D2C Brands are Unorganized… so they can be organizationally integrated and committed to the experience

• D2C Brands are Collaborators… with customers, employees and commercial partners

• D2C Brands are Curious... they remain curious and optimistic in the face of challenges

• D2C Brands are Simplifiers…they simplify choices and markets for customers

• D2C Brands are Opportunistic Experimenters…with their products and business models, and especially with their communications

• D2C Brands are Promise Keepers...they make and keep bold, simple and explicit promises that their customers value

• D2C Brands are Fast Movers...responsiveness is built into their operating fabric

• D2C = CAC:LTV...and D2C brands know their numbers, especially the two that define their reach

• D2C Grows Through “Dig-etail...and brands are digitally natives, not captives. They aim to connect in the physical realm

• D2C Loves TGT, WMT and P&G...and it’s mutual. D2C brands and retailers are finding common cause and partnering

• D2C Brands “Do No Harm...and their experiences are not benign. Approach with cautious intent, ambition and investment

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Category: E-Commerce Platforms , Retail and Restaurants