Total DTC: Building a Better Approach to Reach Your Consumers (L.E.K. Executive Insights)

Whose customer is it, anyways?!

For too long, brands have wrestled with their channels over ownership of their consumers.

The advent of the Internet and e-commerce was supposed to change that, enabling brands to more easily sell “direct-to-consumer.” Many brands adopted such a “multichannel” or “omnichannel” approach, but with little web traffic, have found the results disappointing.

However, the rise of innovative digital-native brands, like Casper, Glossier, and Warby Parker, shows that DTC is much broader than “selling on your brand website.” In fact, brands should learn from these digital natives and adopt what we call a “Total DTC” approach.

A Total DTC approach has three elements:

  1. Customer acquisition
  2. Customer selling
  3. Ongoing customer engagement

These stages can be activated through a range of DTC tactics that go well beyond the brand website, such as social media, pop-up stores, the Amazon 3P Marketplace, subscription services, and more.

By engaging the consumer holistically, brands can finally take back control of the relationship. Leaders like Nike and Disney have already built integrated DTC organizations that surround the customer and serve as their own channels.

Brands that fail to do this, however, will cede that consumer ownership to retailers, who are heavily investing in digital engagement and customer experience, as well as to the digital disruptors.

My colleagues Rob Haslehurst, Noor Abdel-Samed, Jon Weber, and I explored this further in an Executive Insights article, which can be found here (online PDF): Total DTC.

After all, it’s your customer!

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