One of the biggest challenges for brands has always been finding ways to build a relationship with customers to encourage brand loyalty and repeat business.
This need has been especially pertinent in recent years as online shopping and financial concerns have taken their toll on several more traditional retailers. Thousands of stores have closed across the country within the last few years, and some once-mighty retailers have had to either scale down significantly or declare bankruptcy and begin selling off assets. Among all of this doom and gloom there has been one clear winner, however: Direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies.
Not long ago, DTC was most synonymous with late-night infomercials and companies that had difficulty competing against more established brands in the retail space. In the modern market, however, DTC has become a legitimate business model and has led some companies to succeed while well-established alternatives fail.
By exploring how direct-to-consumer advertising builds on the brand-customer relationship to find success, marketers may uncover new strategies that will help them and the brands they represent succeed in the future.
How DTC Advertising Works
As the name implies, direct-to-consumer advertising bypasses the store shelf and reaches out directly to consumers as a means of selling a product or service.
While this once involved mail order or calling a phone line, many DTC brands now leverage the internet to allow direct ordering from an official website. Consumers follow a link or visit the site, find the products they want to buy and order directly from the company without encountering competitors or other distractions
Advertising plays a big part in this process. By centering advertising on the products or website of the company, viewers are directed to the items they want immediately. This reduces the need to build brand recognition since consumers won’t have to remember the product until they get to a store. It also ensures that competitors won’t be able to steal away sales by having similar products appearing in-store displays or online search results.
Building a Relationship
One major focus of direct-to-consumer advertising is building a feeling of trust with consumers that the company hopes its products will then reinforce.
This can lead to a stronger brand-customer relationship than you might see with other products because the advertising itself is designed to help build this feeling. As consumers become customers and interact more with the company, this relationship will continue to grow and the consumer will turn to the company and its offerings before seeking out similar products at retail.
Incorporating Native Advertising
Native advertising can play a big part in establishing and building a relationship between DTC companies and their customers.
These ads are designed so that they seem natural for the platform they appear on, focusing on reinforcing the trust that consumers have in addition to promoting the brand. The native ads help to place the DTC message in context, making it seem more appealing to the audience that sees each ad.
With evolutions in technology that allow for better tracking and targeting of these ads, DTC brands can fine-tune their ads’ performance and ensure that they get the results they desire.
Success into the Future
The popularity of direct-to-consumer sales is only going to grow from here. Even major brands such as Nike and Victoria’s Secret have turned to DTC campaigns to offset losses and cutbacks in the brick-and-mortar sector, and more brands will continue to use DTC advertising as a part of their business models moving forward. If advertisers truly want to build a new type of brand-customer relationship, direct-to-consumer sales is the way to do it.