A few years ago, it certainly seemed like everyone and their mother had a subscription box service. Everything from shaving materials to mattresses had disrupted the traditional brick-and-mortar ecosystem through cardboard boxes full of goodies being delivered straight to your door. For a while, the novelty caught on like wildfire. Who doesn’t like a present delivered to you that you don’t have to put on pants to receive? DTC seemed like a permanent fixture in American shopping habits.
Customers who tired of sorting through shelves, wandering aimlessly through aisles, or unhelpful sales people who were encouraged to push irrelevant promotions on consumers who didn’t necessarily want them. DTC solved that problem instantly. Now, consumers could choose their own adventure by subscribing to a service or arranging a product that works for you. No wandering, no awkward encounter with an eager sales person. Just click, wait, and open.
Well, now there’s a huge problem. It turns out it isn’t that simple anymore. The fat end of the long tail has caught on. And they want in.
How do you waste time at work? Stalk your ex’s vacation photos? Stir the pot and needlessly escalate drama? You can do all these things, and more on Facebook (although arguably more of these things are moving over to Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat). Social media a type of community fountain and town square. It’s where people go to hang out, exchange information and shop. In between stalking and chatting and gossiping, you can also buy things. Who doesn’t love a mall?
But doesn’t this cut into the excellent jobs DTC brands are doing to establish relationships with consumers that causes them? Well, yes, that seems to be the goal. It’s a party, with brands on one side of the door, and consumers on the other, and Facebook is the bouncer. Once again, a middle man has set up shop between brand and consumer. And with Facebook increasing its ad spend in the coming months, it seems like Facebook’s intent to transition into an eCommerce platform to keep up with Amazon, the belle of the ball. And if brands lose their carefully crafted relationships with their consumers in the process, well, too bad.
But all isn’t lost for the marketer who seeks to attract more consumers. Facebook is just one specific experience, and an experience not everyone wants when shopping. Not everyone is interested in scrolling through a newsfeed or clicking past a distant cousin’s bridal shower to buy a designer handbag they really want. Focus on the experience. If you’re hosting a party, you’re making sure that everyone’s glass is full, the music is just loud enough, and snacks are free-flowing. Marketers must ensure their brand is remembered by the experience their consumers have. There are numerous ways to do this: funny and engaging videos, exceptional data management, tailored content. The same way there isn’t one way to have a great party, there isn’t one specific way to engage consumers. But if consumers feel engaged, and not merely looking at a catalogue in digital form, they’ll return where they feel welcome –and remembered.