News • 25 03 2020

Silver Linings and Changing Times

By Kate Sheerin, Associate Director, Dragon Rouge London

Working from home has made us think more about direct to consumer brands. Kate Sheerin, Associate Director in our London office, shares some thoughts on top traits of successful brands in this space…

Day 9 of family isolation. Cut off from the outside world – as we all are from today – there’s no better timing for our new Brew Tea Co. subscription to arrive. A three month supply of insanely good, loose leaf earl grey tea that will brighten up the mornings as I digest the latest news and clean up porridge from highchair, hair and walls.
Beautifully yet minimally packaged, a pop of yellow on the hand written postcard from Tea HQ, a few playful suggestions for how to while away the brewing time (create a monster, practice botany, tell a story…) – this is a brand that takes details seriously and has tone of voice down to a fine art. Everything about the experience is considered – the unboxing, the storytelling, the instructions for use. Even how flexible the subscription is, so you can adjust the deliveries according to your caffeine cravings.

Brew Tea Co. has won me over. And it’s not the only one. Only last night I sent a Bloom & Wild letterbox sized bunch of fresh flowers to a friend who has just given birth and finds herself unable to even see her mum, let alone any other visitors. And given the restrictions we now have around going out to the shops, I’m seriously considering other direct to consumer offerings – such as Smol laundry detergent which sends you concentrated capsules in the post, or Eve Sleep that has a little duvet and pillow set that could be the just ticket for a toddler bursting out of his sleeping bag.
If there were ever a time for e-commerce, it’s now. The way we shop and engage with brands is going to dramatically shift, at least in the short term. The biggest battle brands normally face is changing consumer behaviour, but the new reality we find ourselves in means we all have to rethink and reappraise. These could be changes that stick around for the long haul.
So what are the traits of a successful e-commerce brand? What can we learn from the brands that started in direct to consumer and have designed solutions that are all about ease, eco and engagement? In the time it takes for my tea to brew, here are five things that have struck me so far:

1. Go big on impact – Bold, bright, eye-catching, stripped back… the best direct to consumer brands have identities that stand out on screen, that break the established category codes to feel fresh and contemporary, and that stay impactful no matter when or where you come across them.

2. Size is everything – Liberated from the demands of the shelf where size equals impact, e-commerce packaging is minimal, ergonomic, considered. Less is more – preventing damages, lowering costs, even fitting through the letterbox. A win for the consumer and for the planet.

3. Packaging as experience – The downside to online is the lack of sensorial experience. Which is where unboxing comes in. The best packaging is tactile, aesthetically pleasing, a space for theatre, messaging and engagement. Delighting us from the moment of delivery and encouraging us to buy again.

4. Create a community – What many direct to consumer brands have in common is their loyal following of fans – like-minded people with a shared interest, values or outlook. Encourage community, let consumers share their experiences with others, and use content to keep bringing them closer together.

5. Tell a story – Whether it’s how you display product information or the way you use packaging to communicate messages, take every opportunity to tell the story of your brand. Make the most of ‘high intent shoppers’ to draw them in, let them discover and give them stories to pass on to others.

That’s it, time’s up. ‘You’re about to have a cracking day’, the Brew Tea Co. box assures me. Well, they probably didn’t have COVID-19 in mind, but I can’t help but feel uplifted by their optimism as I settle down to enjoy a few minutes’ peace (with luck) and a hot mug of freshly brewed tea.