How Legacy Brands Can Take a Page (or Two) Out of the D2C Playbook

In by Betsy Whitney

With an influx of direct-to-consumer (D2C) and private label brands making strides in the retail industry by offering online shoppers affordable, high-quality products, the power dynamic has once again shifted in the consumers’ favor, and brands are being challenged to shift their strategies to remain relevant. Through a direct line of communication with their consumers, streamlined purchasing processes and strategic marketing, digitally native brands have managed to achieve the impossible and transform the industry landscape, which has made legacy brands uneasy. Rather than simply viewing these D2C brands as a fad, more brands should instead seek to emulate the exemplary customer experiences they provide on marketplaces, through messaging and by leveraging strategic partnerships in order to sustain consumer loyalty.

Choosing the Right Marketplace

We’ve all heard the phrase “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” The same is true for brands looking to work with marketplace channels like Amazon, eBay, Walmart and Jet. By diversifying their presence on these online platforms, brands are not only able to emulate their D2C counterparts, but can also reach more customers and increase revenue. That said, marketplace revenue potential doesn’t mean a brand should list its products anywhere and everywhere. It’s important to focus on the marketplace channels that will truly move the needle depending on the brand’s specific goals.

From giants like Amazon and eBay, to new players like Instagram and Google Express, each marketplace offers unique benefits for sellers. For example, as the largest online marketplace in the country,,Amazon offers an opportunity for brands to get in front of a massive number of shoppers. However, brands may see the strongest sales in apparel and consumer electronics on Walmart, and when it comes to food, soaps, detergents, etc., Google Express may be best.

Consistency in Messaging Across All Channels

Once they determine which marketplaces are right for them, it is critical for brands to ensure that a level of consistency is maintained in their messaging across all of these channels, plus their own social and other paid channels. Consumers are particularly drawn to D2C brands as a result of their clear messaging and strong conveyance of their missions and identities. If brands do not refine their messaging and ensure a level of consistency, they will quickly lose their brand equity – it’s crucial for a brand’s website to compliment all other parts of their omnichannel approach to build brand awarenessand hold onto consumer attention.

Playing to your partners’ strengths and accentuating your own

Over the past year, there has been a significant resurgence in brick-and-mortar, partly due to Millennial and Generation Z consumers’ appetites for unique in-person customer experiences. D2C brands like Harry’s and Quip took note and have seen tremendous success through strategic partnerships with big-box and traditional retailers like Walmart, Target, JCPenney and Nordstrom. Throughout the second half of 2019, we should continue to see more retailers strike these strategic partnerships in an effort to drive in-store foot traffic.

Brands that are embracing collaborative relationships and forging strategic partnerships have been more successful over the course of the past few tumultuous years in retail. These partnerships can create opportunities for brands to regain control of every aspect of their customer experience, play to their strengths and lean on partners for support where they are lacking. By taking a page out of the D2C playbook, more brands can maintain and build relevance, consumer interest and brand loyalty without sacrificing their brand equity.