Can DTC Brands Compete with Marketplace Apps?

DTC brands have a unique opportunity – a direct line to their customers. Martechvibe spoke to Joshua Foo, Senior Retention Marketing Manager at Chronos Agency, about growing visibility and finding that hero product.

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  • More businesses are jumping to the direct-to-consumer business model because of the benefits for both brand and consumer. Brands cut out the middleman, and have more control over the customer experience. 

    The reduced operational cost and increased profit is balanced by brands having to own logistics and marketing. The opportunity is tremendous but not one without its own challenges. Especially in the age of convenience, this means competing with the big guns in the retail industry. 

    We spoke to Joshua Foo, Senior Retention Marketing Manager at Chronos Agency, a lifecycle marketing agency helping high-growth DTC brands scale, about how to tackle some of these modern marketing challenges.

    What is the unique opportunity for DTC brands to deliver more customer value?

    All DTC brands crave loyalty. Acquisition is easy, retention is hard. When it comes to products, finding a hero is step one.  But what if you’ve got that covered? What more value can you give to your customers? Try not to be a one-trick pony, continue innovating, expanding; customers always want more. 

    The unique opportunity DTC brands have is they have a direct line to their customers. Get to know them, grow with them, explore opportunities with them; you might stumble upon another hero product or two. Building that relationship with your customers is a game-changer – it becomes a two-way street. Customers love being heard and in return, you get them to stick around.

    What makes customers churn, and what makes them stay?

    Stores that specialise in a limited product range or cater to a niche market often experience natural customer churn over time. This is usually because the customer journey reaches its endpoint — maybe the product has run its course, there are no cross-selling opportunities, or customers discover more diverse options elsewhere. 

    Marketplace apps provide solutions to these challenges, offering a smoother and more convenient customer journey with a broader range of options.

    To understand what keeps a customer engaged, let’s delve into the strategies run by marketplace apps to foster loyalty. Examining how they effectively upsell products and cross-sell across different stores provides valuable insights. In today’s fast-paced industries like fashion, beauty, and health, customers increasingly seek a one-stop-shop experience. Marketplace apps excel in catering to this demand, offering a seamless approach to fulfil diverse needs within these dynamic sectors.

    For the modern customer, has the definition of brand loyalty changed, and how?

    It has, especially in the APAC region. The decline in brand loyalty has been significant with the ascent of marketplace apps, which now dominate over the ecommerce and retail landscape. The prevailing factors in this shift are convenience, a diverse range of options, and attractive deals, making marketplace loyalty take precedence over traditional brand loyalty.

    Over the past few years, DTC brands have grappled with the challenge of gaining recognition independently, relying heavily on marketplace apps for visibility—and this challenge endures. Building their brand primarily hinges on these platforms. However, the downside lies in the potential struggle for brands to break away from the marketplace ecosystem and carve out their own distinct space.

    What advice would you give brands trying to up their ad creatives optimisation?

    Testing. Testing. Testing. It is a big deal—like, super important. You might stumble onto some new tricks that you never thought would hit the jackpot.

    Here’s the thing some brands miss out on: figuring out their own sweet spots. It’s easy to copy the big guys or mimic successful ads, but you gotta factor in stuff like who’s checking out your stuff, the price tags, and the kind of products you’re dealing with. You’d be surprised to find what actually clicks with your customers. This process isn’t just about boosting sales; it’s also about carving out your own vibe and identity. Honestly, a bunch of times, my own ideas got debunked thanks to testing. Without it, I could be leaving a goldmine on the table.


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