DTC businesses are all about creating brands and growing them – and while there’s an understandable emphasis on performance marketing, the brand experience is ultimately a key factor in success or failure, says a marketer with experience of both DTC brands and one of the biggest traditional FMCG brands.
Lorna Sommerville, CMO at Function of Beauty, a digitally-native, hyper-customizable haircare company, is able to speak with some authority on this subject, having spent five years as Global Brand Director for Coca-Cola and three years as VP Marketing at men’s grooming brand Harry’s.
In an interview in the current issue of Admap (topic: brand experience), she reflects on the differences between DTC brands and traditional brands and what each can learn from the other.
“When you look at the DTC brands that have had break-away success it is my opinion that they have, at their core, developed really special brand experiences,” she says. (For more, read the full interview here: Behind the scenes: a refreshingly candid look at the inner workings of DTC brands.)
“They might not use that language to talk about them,” she adds, noting that “‘brand’ can be a little bit of a dirty word in the DTC world.”
Dismissed as PR or worse, Sommerville argues that brand is a combination of several factors, all of which sum up the best DTC brands:
• thoughtful elevated product and packaging design (which in turn comes from)
• deeply understanding your customers’ problems and where moments of delight can be added
• intuitive customer journeys
• human and personal customer service interactions
But she cautions that DTC businesses can be sidetracked with the wealth of data they have about existing customers: “if you’re not careful you can find yourself in a position that lacks forward-looking insight into consumer segments that will be the highest value for future growth.”
A bias to test and iterate from where they are can result in DTC brands failing to define a long term strategy and placing big bets to get there – something she believes traditional brands better understand.
“The wrestle between performance marketing and brand strategy is the biggest marketing difference between the two worlds but trying to find the middle ground is really exciting,” she says.
This article first appeared in www.warc.com
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