Unravelling the D2C brand boom

As the direct-to-consumer market’s rapid growth shows no signs of slowing down, we examine what role creativity plays in building a successful D2C brand

While the recurring story of the so-called retail apocalypse has been one of plummeting sales and deserted high streets, the thriving ecommerce market is expected to be worth $5.4 trillion globally this year, according to eMarketer. But it’s not just the retail giants that have been embracing the rise of ecommerce; the phenomenon has also democratised online retail for a growing number of small businesses and, most notably, paved the way for a boom in direct-to-consumer brands.

The D2C model – which cuts out the middle man in order to reach customers, quite literally, directly – has existed in one form or another since the 18th century but has been gaining momentum since the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s. D2C, as we know it today, came to fruition during the 2010s, when Instagram’s picture-perfect aesthetic became the ideal platform for the likes of natural beauty brand Glossier (founded in 2014), sustainable fashion retailer Reformation (2009), luggage company Away (2015), and men’s razor brand Harry’s (2013), among others.

Photograph of the Harrys and Flamingo collaboration
Top: Harry’s range; Above: Harry’s collaboration with sister brand Flamingo for Pride

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