It’s no secret that today’s consumer economy looks very different from a decade ago. It seems like the direct-to-consumer businesses model is trending with entrepreneurs. How does a brand successfully harness the power of content marketing in such a fast-paced direct-to-consumer digital landscape?
The Rise of Direct-to-Consumer Brands
Companies no longer have to be massive international enterprises or part of the Fortune 500 to be household names or achieve success. The market no longer only belongs to brands like Johnson & Johnson and GE.
A whole new generation of direct-to-consumer brands is on the rise and might one day even overtake the established big brands. These include to-watch companies like:
- The Honest Company
- Reformation Clothing
Their quick rise has left many people scratching their heads. The comprehensive IAB report “The Rise of the 21st Century Brand Economy,” explores the changing landscape and what factors have led to their success. It also addresses the role of content marketing in the rise of the direct-to-consumer brand.
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Reaching The Customer
Over the last ten years, the way we shop has changed a lot. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, brands relied entirely on mass media to get the word out about their products. This made mass media (radio, TV, newspapers, and magazines), a middleman in the relationship between companies and consumers.
It also meant that in order for brands to reach customers, they needed supply chain control and huge advertising budgets.
This allowed brands like Kellogg’s and Campbell’s to dominate for decades. It also meant that smaller companies and brands were shut out from those opportunities and could not reach customers on a large scale. If you could not pay, you were out of luck.
The internet has changed this forever. Today, all smaller brands and companies need is an internet connection to reach people all around the world. While TV advertising campaigns can cost millions, it costs nothing to set up a Twitter or Instagram account.
New brands in hyper-niche markets like vintage jeans, eyeglasses, and decorative pillows can now reach their target audiences directly without the help of a middleman. They can log into Facebook and Twitter and take control of their message themselves.
How Direct Brands Achieve Brand Loyalty
What many direct brands do well is opening up a dialogue with their customers. Traditionally, broadcast media was not the only thing in the way of the brand-customer relationship.
Traditionally, brands would have to cater to what wholesalers and stores wanted to sell, as they would be the ones carrying their products. Broadcast media would decide what customers wanted to be communicated to them and stores and wholesalers would decide what customers wanted to buy.
Brands had to work with that and customers did not have much of a say.
Direct brands have changed all of that. They see what their customers need and want and what inspires them in real time. These brands work with this information and to cultivate content and products.
They find out quickly if what they are doing is effective or not, and can change to suit their goals and their customers’ needs with no middlemen. This direct relationship makes consumers feel valued and heard. It can lead to repeated purchases and even brand loyalty.
What’s Your Story?
Direct-to-consumer brands often succeed in this new marketplace with branding that incorporates a strong purpose. They tell interesting stories that engage their customers. While they lack the benefits of traditional marketing, they do have something that Kellogg’s never had: first-party data.
Traditional brands had almost no real-time data about their customers because they got their products to customers on store shelves. Newer brands know everything about their customers. This is because they collect opt-in identity data and build their content and services around it.
Direct brands can interact with customers in a whole new way. This allows them to tailor their branding, content, services, products, and storytelling to their online customers. Brands don’t tell customers what to buy, but instead, create a relationship with them. This new type of marketing is intimate and empathetic. It is social and involves an open dialogue and communication.
What The Rise Of Direct Consumer Brands Means For Content Marketing
Customers are growing to appreciate smaller niche brands with distinct personalities that offer a more personal touch. Many larger brands are struggling to provide this. This has led to growth slowing to a crawl or stopping entirely in almost every category of the US consumer economy.
However, the story is different for online sales. They account for about 90% of the overall growth of categories. This indicates that one-day digital consumerism will dominate the marketplace.
It is very possible that only the brands that can properly harness more personal content marketing strategies will continue to grow as the consumer economy changes. Content marketing helps brands get ahead because it provides what they need to stay relevant and continue to succeed:
- Audience engagement
- An authentic image
- Data collection
- Distinction in the marketplace
The Importance of Authenticity
Consumers are now looking for authenticity as much, and sometimes even more than, they are looking for things to buy. It is no longer just about selling products. It is about crafting an authentic purpose-driven image which inspires customers to purchase products and services and engage with a brand on a more personal level.
Utilizing content marketing to create a strong voice, relatable story, and brand image that customers can identify with and want to engage with is the name of the game in the new world of e-commerce.
Effective content marketing takes all of this into account. It can actually benefit both sides. Newcomer brands can harness content marketing strategies to further their direct-to-consumer, content-based relationships with engaged fanbases.
The giants can also make use of it to maintain their places by incorporating a direct marketing approach. This approach involves storytelling to create authenticity and build the kinds of customer relationships necessary to stay competitive.
Content Is Key
While numerous companies and brands are facing unsure futures and many factors are up in the air, one thing is certain: content. Relatable, authentic, and high-quality content is a necessity for successful branding. All brands, regardless of size or niche, need effective content to stay afloat and grow.
Which direct-to-consumer brands have the best content marketing and why?