DTC brand, Brooklinen was birthed from the frustration that a husband and wife had with the high prices of luxury-grade linen. Six years later and they run a highly successful online brand with passionate customers and have raised sixty million dollars in venture funding. After a while, customers were looking to Brooklinen for advice and curation not only for sheets, but for the rest of the bedroom as well. A privileged position to be in, but with a core competency in fabrics and a high standard for the products they put out; going too wide with their product offering didn’t seem wise.
Instead, they did something unexpected… Spaces by Brooklinen launched nearly a year ago and is a user-friendly marketplace concept offering a highly curated assortment of home goods from like-minded partner brands, as well as independent designers and artisans.
Selling partner products isn’t typical for a DTC brand, but the high calibre products chosen are completely on-brand for Brooklinen. Plus, they can now sell more to customers who are asking for products outside of their portfolio.

 

Opening a partner marketplace is obviously very ambitious and probably requires a large customer base. However, maybe you could partner with a handful of companies instead? Are there brands with a similar ethos, selling in your industry, but with non-competing products? This could increase your average order value and also introduce you to your partner’s following.

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Grace Jones

Image Credit: Brooklinen

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Direct-to-consumer cookware brand Great Jones, sells great looking chef-grade products at affordable prices. Co-founder, Sierra Tishgart, explains their cookware innovation strategy; “My pots and pans are highly visible design pieces in my home”, this insight of bringing great design to a fairly drab category, combined with lower pricing for professional quality has helped catapult Great Jones into the industry. Their range centres around Enameled cast-iron Dutch ovens and chef-grade skillets, using the same materials as high-end brands to ensure even distribution of heat during cooking. Instead of basing their market research on consumers, they focused their efforts on chefs. This approach helped them release a serious quality product and not just appear to be one.

 

Making an unattainable product affordable, whilst driving credibility through design is a strategy put to great effect by D2C brands such as Brooklinen and Away. Are their products in your industry usually reserved for professionals that you can now be sold at an accessible price point? With the ability to sell directly to consumers through your online store and avoid retailer margins, some of these traditionally higher-priced products may now be commercially viable at lower price points.

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Grace Jones

Image Credit: Grace Jones

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Natural deodorant brand, Native (acquired by P&G in 2017) kickstarted ‘cleaner’ deodorant market trends, with the goal of making it easier to consume less harmful ingredients. “The personal care industry has been lazy in making sure its products are safe, and we’re not having it”. Native started out with a highly successful deodorant range, that manages to balance ‘healthy’ and ‘clean’ whilst still managing to capture the premium cues of an upmarket health product. With a passionate customer-base and authority in the space, they set their sights on expanding their offering to other items in the bathroom essentials space. Charcoal as an ingredient and process (charcoal filtering) has experienced huge growth in the past 5 years, with google search volume for ‘charcoal toothpaste’ increasing 1300% from 2016 to 2017. Native used this trend to supercharge their foray into the toothpaste category. By offering a new range of charcoal toothpaste to an existing customer base, they were able to stack the deck in their favour.

 

Finding an emerging trend that is congruent with your brand could help catapult your next product into the market. With the spoils being, easier press coverage, large volumes of search traffic and other early mover advantages. Are there products that are used in the same customer ritual that you currently cater to? You could research possible opportunities through influential blogs, Google trends or customer interviews. As long as the new product fits in with your brand, this process could open up a whole new market for your business.

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Native Toothpaste

Image Credit: Native

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Dog-care brand, Bark has developed a new purpose-lead product range of dog food. Not only do Bark give partial proceeds to dog charities (a cause that is near certain to be close to their customer’s hearts). They have also centred each variant around an American city or state, with proceeds going to that area’s dog charity. Not only is this an opportunity to speak to customers in a more focused way, it also offers great inspiration for flavours and packaging design.

 

Letting a customer support local, whilst giving to a cause close to their hearts is very compelling. Is there an opportunity for you to release multiple variants of a new product, each centred on a geographical region or city? Variants could be inspired by local cuisine, a famous figure or a stereotypical design-style. This method might even be used as a customer recruitment tool, effectively being a way to niche down to multiple different smaller markets, whilst keeping your brand and product fundamentals intact.

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Bark snacks

Image Credit: Bark

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High-end DTC beauty brand, Beauty Pie launched by serial entrepreneur Marcia Kilgore, operates on a paid membership basis. You need to buy a monthly or yearly subscription to get access to the products. The concept is based around the fact that most premium beauty brands use the same outsourced labs and manufacturers, Beauty Pie’s innovation is to be upfront with customers about this and offer their lines at ‘factory prices’, thus saving money without sacrificing on quality. The company’s messaging and PR all point towards the subscription cost being how the brand makes their money. They’ve even been dubbed the ’Netflix of Beauty’ and go to the extent of offering different membership tiers with caps on how much customers are allowed to spend on the site.

 

Beauty Pie are affectively running a ‘recurring revenue’ style business model. Unlike subscription businesses, customers are charged every month whether they receive goods for not. Whilst basing a whole business around this concept may be hard to do, is there a way you could put certain areas of your brand behind a paywall or membership program? Maybe in return for exclusives, early access or even annual product refurbs? This could potentially add to your monthly revenue, without increasing unit sales or even having to acquire new customers.

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Beauty Pie

Image Credit: Beauty Pie

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