Creating Tomorrow: D2C goes mainstream

Heinz condiment ice cream


Earlier this year, I was sent a gift voucher to the subscription service Reposed. While beauty box subs and the like have boomed in recent years, this is a trend that somewhat passed me by, until now. The last subscription I had to anything was a magazine, which I think ages me somewhat – certainly against my younger colleagues who can’t remember the last time they read anything in print – but I am now officially obsessed.

I should caveat this obsession by fessing up to the fact that there is something of the old and new about this particular subscription, given it still centres around print, delivering a new book each month, along with other treats, which have so far included a packet of wildflower seeds, a face mask, bright orange lip balm and delicious organic tea bags. (I should also confess that I attempted to ‘unbox’ the first one when it arrived, for Instagram Stories and discovered I am not a natural influencer.)

Why mention it? Well, I’m not the only consumer to discover, or rediscover, subscription services during 2020. Considered a few years back as a resolutely Millennial gimmick, subscription boxes are enjoying a huge resurgence in popularity across all age brackets as we collectively look for joyful moments and little treats to punctuate the monotony of life during a pandemic, but also as shopping patterns shift irreversibly to home delivery and convenience.

They’re also an example of how the D2C market is evolving, moving from niche, start-up model to core strategy of some of the world’s biggest brands.

And it’s not just subs boxes that make D2C so interesting right now. Traditional retailers and major FMCG companies are pivoting their sales channels, their messaging and their marketing, borrowing a direct-to-consumer approach from smaller brands as they look to maximise sales during these tricky times.

CPG brands, for example – more used to their customers buying in supermarkets – are bulk shipping shelf-stable products direct to the consumer. And in a world where stockpiling has sadly become the norm, it’s a win-win: helping them with their margins and delivering better value for the buyer.

But it’s also showcasing a whole new playful side to this market, with brands such as Heinz launching at-home ice cream kits where families can create flavours inspired by their more famous condiments, like ketchup and salad cream. I haven’t told my step kids about this for fear they demand we try it at home.

It seems the D2C revolution is here to stay…

Managing Director, WGSN

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