D2C Brands: What can you learn from the top 5 D2C Brands? (with D2C Business Model Examples)

Once upon a time, a wise old man rightly said, "There is no end to learning”.

He couldn’t have been more correct about it.


If you are a retailer, or from any other background, and want to shift towards D2C Business, you should know better about it.


Starting a new and different type of business might seem scary as you do not yet know about the tips and tricks of it. Sounds relatable? If yes, then stick with us. Because in this article, you’re going to learn about all the lessons from the topmost D2C brands, along with model examples.


In this article, we’ll take you through -

  1. The backstory of 5 top D2C Brands, their challenges and how they overcame them; and

  2. What lessons can you learn and apply in your own business


So without any further ado, let’s get started


Top 5 D2C Brands - their story


1. Dollar Shave Club


The company was started from scratch by founders Michael Dubin and Mark Levine and it gradually scaled to becoming the major competition for the monopolistic reign of Gillette, eating away over 25% of its market share.


In the year 2011, the duo noticed the major challenges in the market. Razors were unnecessarily expensive, and buying them was a frustrating experience. Moreover, the monopoly over the market share by Gillette and Schick made the markup on razors high.


Thus, they came up with a solution for this. Firstly, they made an EPIC launch video which made them receive 12,000 new subscribers within 48 Hours of the video going live. Next, they defined a target audience - people in their twenties and thirties who didn’t have enough funds to buy expensive blades and weren’t loyal to big names like Gillette. Also, their futuristic business model of combining a trading model with a subscription model was what made the difference.


2. Allbirds


Allbirds is a sustainable footwear brand created by Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger. They became famous for using New Zealand’s merino wool to create simple, muted, and comfortable sneakers that people could wear everywhere.

Tim, a professional soccer player, had a vision of having a sustainable sneaker brand made from wool.


The duo’s main challenge was that everywhere around them were brightly colored, heavily branded shoes. Due to this lack of simplicity, they wanted a pair of clean, simple, and non-branded shoes that would be comfortable for long-wear and can function as gym shoes as well as casual wear. The footwear industry having a large carbon footprint was also a challenge for them.


They found a solution to this by combining their cultural heritage with technology. Partnering with a wool industry research group and Agricultural Scientists, they patented a shoe material made of merino wool. They highlighted the major benefits of the shoes - ease of use, the comfort of wear, durability and resilience, and of course, how beneficial to the environment the shoes were.


Wanting to raise $30,000, Allbirds ended up selling 1064 pairs of shoes and raising $120,000 in funds. Today, Allbirds has a valuation of upwards of $1.4 Billion.


3. Lenskart


Consumer trust is quite low when it comes to online purchases of eye care products.


However, things worked out well for Lenskart. It has topped the funding table in the D2C segment with $774 Million since its inception.


First, much like other fashion items, eyewear is a typical look-and-feel segment. Lenskart managed to build trust and change perception through mind-boggling product varieties, widespread sales, at-home services, and more. It focused on fit, comfort, and accuracy.


Lenskart now operates 750+ stores in more than 175 cities in India.


4. Licious


Licious is a meat and seafood brand offering the cleanest fish, chicken, beef, and eggs. Licious operates on a farm-to-fork model, controlling the supply chain with world-class processing facilities, ensuring the highest quality and freshness until it reaches the end customer.


With over 3500 employees, the company claims to deliver orders within 90-120 minutes. It handles over a million orders per month.

To date, Licious has got a customer base of 1 Million+ unique customers with an average basket size of INR 700.


5. Everlane


Everlane is an apparel store that focuses on the ethical sourcing of high-quality garments for men and women. Founded in 2010, Everlane’s strategy to be a transparent and ethical brand resulted in today’s success.


Everlane’s founders Michael Preysman and Jesse Farmer wanted to address the following challenges -

  1. Are the factories that create the apparel ethical in their dealings?

  2. Why don’t the customers know the price breakdown?

  3. Do the garments last long, or are they trend-centric?


The only way Everlane could address the concerns mentioned above was to use the direct-to-consumer way. While creating a transparent brand that’s adamant about delivering ethically sourced, high-quality products, their main focus was on what mattered most to their customers. This is what helped this brand thrive. Being radically transparent about their prices, the markups worked in their favour.


In 2015, Everlane received a Seed Funding Of $1.1 Million. In 2017, the company’s valuation was at over $250 Million. The success of each strategy is visible today.


Takeaways for you!


Before you get hyped up with all these inspirational stories and run off to start your own D2C brand, WAIT! The moral of the story is left to talk about.

This brings us to the topic of what you have learnt and how you should be dealing with your brand.


1. Get to know all about your customers’ problems, take them up as challenges, and fix them!


2. Be Flexible or be a Flop Show!

Only the brands that are adaptable and can change themselves according to the present time & situation, are the ones that last till the end. So you need to decide which side you wanna be on.


3. Choose Subscription Models. Customers love them.


4. Communication is the Key

Maintain good relations with your customers. Communicate with them often. Ask them for their feedback and suggestions.


5. Offer your customers a Personalised Experience

Some of the best D2C platforms out there can be Shopify, WooCommerce, ANS Commerce, and Adobe Commerce. These platforms not only simplify your work, but they also provide access to international markets. Apart from this, these platforms are powerful and are quite affordable.


6. Use Social Media for Advertisements

Social Media is probably the most powerful tool in today’s age, if you want to spread the word about anything! For making your D2C Business a success, you need to be where your target audience is, on social media. You could use the platforms of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. to post your brand’s advertisements and leverage your business.


7. (and last but never the least) Be creative and think out-of-the-box

Nothing makes the show up and running like creativity. You could think of some cool and fun ideas for maybe an advertisement. Or make use of clever catch-phrases for your business poster. These will instantly pull the customers’ curiosity towards your brand.


Final Thoughts

With this, we come to the end of our article. Surely, the backstories of the 5 brands have inspired you enough, and you got to learn something valuable from each of them. You can share these stories with your friends and colleagues, if you like. Or even better, keep them to yourself, and surprise them with your thriving D2C Brand!