Kate Ryan
Kate Ryan

As direct-to-consumer brands gain strength in the marketplace, traditional brands and retailers are being forced to rethink their strategies for building brand-customer relationships, a new study from New York-based PR firm Diffusion says.

According to Diffusion’s 2018 Direct-to-Consumer Purchase Intent Index, 81 percent of Americans claim they’ll make at least one purchase from a D2C brand within the next five years, and a full third of survey respondents say that at least 40 percent of their purchases will be made through D2C companies.

The factors drawing consumers to D2C brands include convenience, product quality and shipping. More than a quarter of respondents (27 percent) who plan to purchase from D2C companies say that they offer greater convenience than traditional retailers, and 18 percent say that D2C brands offer higher quality than traditional brands. For customers buying such big-ticket items as sofas, the free shipping D2C brands often provide is also a big draw, with 21 percent of them citing it as the deciding factor in whether or not they’ll make a purchase.


While these pluses are largely due to the online presence of many D2C companies, the study finds they are not the only things brands need to consider in their brand building. Brick-and-mortar retailing still has an important role to play. With such companies as Warby Parker, Casper, Burrow and Amazon building on their online success by opening up physical stores, the study found that the presence and amenities of traditional retailers are still a considerable draw.

“A new playbook has emerged,” according to Diffusion managing director, U.S. Kate Ryan. “There’s a clear trend where these companies grow a sustainable e-commerce business to grab market share by way of industry disruption—and then launch a store, and then hundreds more once proof of concept has been secured.”

The study was based on an online survey of 1,184 adults conducted on Aug. 2 by global public opinion and data company YouGov plc.