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What is direct to consumer? (D2C, DTC)

Home > eCommerce Terms > What is direct to consumer? (D2C, DTC)

Direct to consumer brands have created a new methodology for eCommerce success which is taking their products right to their buyer.

Direct to consumer is a term that means when brands sell directly to their end customers without selling through a retailer, distributor, wholesaler or other outlet.

Why are brands doing this?

Well there are a few reasons.

The D2C model let's brands build a real relationship with their end consumer

When selling directly to your end consumer, you can tell your brand's story directly to them. Traditionally if your product was chosen over a competitors on a retailer's website, you may have won the sale, but did you build a relationship with that customer?

Data, data, data

Historically brands have sold to retailers or middlemen who maintained the relationship with their customer. That means all the precious data about buying trends and even more so, demographics was hidden from brands.

With customer's email or physical address, the brand can provide a more unified marketing experience.

Consumers expect a better experience than they've historically had.

Consumers (especially younger ones) are becoming more accustomed to better digital experiences and they expect them to be seamless.

When you sell to a retailer or middleman, you have very little control over what happens between them and the customer.

New Product Launches

One of the hardest parts of being a brand is creating products that your target demographic will love and purchase. If you don't have a direct line of communication with your customer, how effective can you be at new product rollouts?

This approach can be done in a matter of weeks rather than years. For example, Coca-Cola took two years and tested 30 different flavors of Diet Coke before finally launching the four winning flavors. Yet, E.L.F. Cosmetics, a DTC cosmetics brand, has launched 90 products a year with some in as little as 13 weeks, using their website and stores to deliver them direct to consumers.

Examples of D2C/DTC Brands

There are thousands of direct to consumer brands popping up competing with the incumbents in their space.

Check out our D2C Direct To Consumer Brands Directory for an ultimate filterable list.

DTC or D2C

We use D2C because all the other acronyms like B2B, B2C, C2C, B2G etc all use 2. Following this naming convention means that D2C should be the correct usage.