The growing impact of direct-to-consumer marketers like Warby Parker, Dollar Shave Club Inc. and Casper Sleep Inc. has inspired countless others to try disrupting new sectors with similar tactics.
But incumbents can take some solace: Building a durable DTC business isn’t as easy as the flood of ads in social media and on subways and buses make it look.
The big names in DTC typically launched with limited product lines—pitching one thing, done right—initially sold largely or entirely through their own websites. They often undercut prices with the savings from reducing middlemen and taking more control of manufacturing. They tapped their customer connections for insights on what people want. And they generated marketing buzz to propel their forays into the market.