The pandemic accelerated the increasing popularity of Direct-to-consumer marketing. Clare Lawson, CEO at Ogilvy Experience EMEA, speaks on this growth and how opportunities for DTC marketing is going to continue to evolve.
Without spilling your secret sauce of course, what is your pitch on DTC?
Since the pandemic, the relationship with DTC has never been more important. We know that two thirds of brands have a DTC model and pre-pandemic, this was around half – so the growth and the need is evident. DTC shouldn’t be ignored but it’s important to note that it’s not the only route to market and where bricks continue to decline, we are increasingly seeing the rise of intermediary relationships that pose a new dynamic for DTC. For example, if a consumer needs some food shopping, they may no longer go directly to the supermarket, they may choose to buy through a delivery app.
This development adds complexity to the model and introduces a B2B2C relationship. Brands need to think about this relationship carefully – the third party ultimately becomes responsible for a part of the consumer experience and it poses the question of how these intermediaries can effect brand equity – the more mediators involved in your DTC relationship, the greater the channels and higher the digital footfall, but potentially, also the greater risk to brand equity.
Therefore, brands of course must make sure that their DTC experience is optimized and frictionless but mustn’t be short-sighted to think that is the only route to the customer.
November is a popular month for retail and ecommerce campaigns. How does your agency cut through the noise to stand-out and engage with your target audience?
There is no denying that November is a month of elevated footfall, both digitally and physically. It’s a time of extreme price sensitivity but it’s also an opportunity for brands to look at existing customers and make sure that they are adding value to drive and deepen loyalty. Many brands forget this and are in danger of allowing their customers to be allured by the competitors advances.
We know that it costs 5x more to acquire new customers than it does to maintain them so whilst we of course support our clients with the need to attract and increase customer base, we also focus on loyalty and how we can deepen engagement with existing customers via supplementary offers like enhanced service wraps or surprise and delight moments.
This is of course one of retails most active times but it is not just a moment for hard transaction, this is an opportunity for high value experience, offers alone won’t drive long term relationships.
How do you manage a cross-channel experience that encourages community engagement and at the same time, remains true to the brand?
It’s important that we no longer think about customer journeys as linear, it’s now much more about connected eco-systems. Firstly, when we look at a customer experience from brand awareness to action, we look at all of the possible channels that a customer can interact with and how they link up in a spider web of interconnected touchpoints, it’s anything but linear.
When we put this at the center of our thinking we are putting the consumer at the heart, and when you set up like this, you directly focus on the communities that exist that enhance the relationship with the brand – this could be MumsNet talking about two different childrens food companies for example. Integrating that forum and conversation into our brand touchpoints increases our reach and relevance.
Furthermore, setting up like this requires you to not have a standard measurement approach, we aren’t talking about clicks and purchases or reach in isolation, we are talking about brand advocacy so this must be looked at holistically alongside standard metrics.
As AI and social media continue to evolve, how you see them expanding opportunities for direct-to-consumer marketing?
The landscape is changing and with the development of AI and social media, opportunities for DTC marketing is going to continue to evolve. Social media will continue to offer more breadth of channels, whilst AI will give brands more opportunity for enhancing their strategies via personalization at scale.
When it comes to DTC, deeper personalization and more direct to consumer channels will only ever be helpful. Social media puts the brand where the consumer is. We know that for generations XYZ it works especially well with the drive to understand products and read reviews rather than just take a brands word for it. As we move to gen Alpha, brand relationship is going to need to feel even more like a one-to-one scenario with the need for the introduction to the brand to come on the consumers terms. This increasingly sees the involvement of influence and influencers as the initial catalyst for brand advocacy and engagement. Over half of teens trust influence over brands and natively expect brands to know what they want.
Away from AI as a generative content tool, brands will need to not just remember a customer’s name but offer personalization at scale, giving an entirely individual experience based on understanding their needs, wants and habits. For example, AI can help a brand to understand preferred channel or method of payment, making the process frictionless and by stripping out the overwhelm of choice that has become our norm, brands will create an experience based on tailored preferences and drive a deeper brand relationship.