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DTC Trends | Direct To Consumer Trends in 2021

Joshua Weatherwax
Table of Contents

Once you've chosen the direct to consumer business model for your new or existing business, you'll probably want to look into the current state of the industry.

And the best way to make sure you're picking a profitable idea is to look at some D2C trends and statistics.

Luckily, we've put together this comprehensive guide on the growth of the direct to consumer industry and the top trends of 2021.

Give it a read and you'll be ready to get to work on turning your business into one of the best and most recognized direct to consumer brands.

Top 10 Direct To Consumer Trends in 2021

2021 has been a banner year for direct to consumer businesses and established some new norms that have changed the future of DTC.

Here are ten of the biggest trends from 2021:

1. Online Shopping Dominates

Whether you're just starting a DTC business or you've run one for years, you've undoubtedly noticed that brick-and-mortar stores are disappearing faster than ever. That's due in large part to strong eCommerce growth. That's why it's important to have either a fully online business or make the offline-to-online (O2O) jump, so you can grab a hold of some market share while there's still plenty of room to grow. Businesses that are still hemming and hawing about this trend are likely to be gone in the next few years.

2. Creativity Is Key

With more DTC businesses entering the fray every day, it's becoming more important than ever to be creative and stand out from the crowd. This is especially true of your DTC marketing and direct to consumer advertising efforts. The brands that are going above and beyond to highlight their uniqueness and target smaller niches are seeing considerable growth and success. You can use eCommerce content marketing, eCommerce email marketing, and more to get your brand message to the world and show that you aren't just another DTC company that has little personality. You should also make sure this messaging is carried through in your eCommerce packaging, as this can serve as an extra reminder of who you are as a company and help solidify your relationship with your customers.

3. Social Media Is the Main Acquisition Channel

Unsurprisingly, 2021 saw social media networks continue to grow as the main source of most DTC business' new leads. Facebook topped the pile, with more DTC businesses than ever utilizing the platform to run digital ads targeting their chosen niches. In fact, a growing number of direct to consumer sales are being made directly through the platform every day. This is due to the increased focus on eCommerce and the ability to add products to a cart directly from the ads, lowering the steps involved and limiting the cart abandonment rate. Instagram is also seeing a major uptick, though the ads there are skewing younger and need to be more creative than sales-y.

4. Huge International Gains

One of the fastest-growing sectors of the DTC industry is international sales. There are a few factors causing this shift. First, more consumers than ever are now considered "middle class", with more than 85% of those consumers living in the Asia Pacific region. Second, the rise of eCommerce has connected new markets with little existing competition. This is allowing even small businesses to gain a foothold and grow at an unprecedented pace. Whether you're looking to sell DTC food, run a reverse dropshipping operation, or something else, there's a largely untapped market opening new doors every day.

5. Categories Are Becoming Blurred

Many brands took major hits in the past few years due to their reliance on a single type of product that was no longer deemed necessary. Though some failed to recover, most chose to expand their offerings and compete for market share in other industries. A large portion of textile and clothing manufacturers added facemasks to their offerings to keep sales coming in and retain their customers. As long as the product complements your current offerings and doesn't feel like a desperate reach, customers have shown they are more than willing to continue to support their favorite brands. This is also true for many a B2B business that have added DTC to their offline or eCommerce funnel.

6. Financing Is Becoming Easier

One surprising trend to emerge this year is how investors are viewing business opportunities, especially in the DTC sphere. Business owners looking to grow their DTC business, especially online, are seeing financing from some of the best banks come through like never before. Independent investors are also jumping on burgeoning brands and looking to get their foot in the door before massive growth begins. If you can put together a strong sales forecast and comprehensive eCommerce business plan, you may come into a windfall sooner than expected. Then, you can invest this new money in the right areas and grow your sales and business faster than ever.

7. Niches Are Beating General Interest

For much of the last century, brands were aiming for total market dominance over a given category. This led to many small businesses being left behind, but also left many niches underserved or ignored. In 2021, these niches are now becoming more important than ever and are driving more profits for smaller businesses than major brands. Niches like vegan foods, ethically sourced clothing, handmade crafts, and more are all seeing strong growth for many small business owners. Today, the list of high demand products is more diverse than ever, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to carve out your own niche and start growing your business.

8. Food And Beverages Are Growing

Another fairly unexpected trend is that DTC food businesses are seeing major growth in both local and international delivery. Whether you're just looking into how to sell food from home or are already selling cookies online, there's a lot of upside for your business in the coming years. If you choose to operate in this industry, your best choice for selling online is BlueCart eCommerce. With over 92,000 buyers on our online marketplace, BlueCart offers the best eCommerce platform on the market, and we can help you take your business to the next level with exposure and access to buyers and sellers alike. 

9. Mobile Is Taking A Hit

For years, we've been seeing consumers use their mobile phones more and more to find and purchase products. This trend seems to have hit a wall as more people spend their time at home rather than on-the-go. Though social media networks are still seeing strong conversions, mobile sites run by businesses using a headless eCommerce platform can't say the same. Consumers are instead using their computers to shop through the sites or are choosing to purchase through an eCommerce marketplace instead. However, this trend may change as vaccination rates continue to increase, so it's worth keeping your mobile site running and updated regularly.

10. More Robust Payment Options

One area where many DTC businesses fall behind their competitors is with their payment options. Consumers no longer want to choose between credit cards or checks to make their purchases. The most successful companies all use payment gateway providers that accept a range of payment types like ACH payment, eCheck, recurring payments, and more. At the very least, you really want to be able to accept payments online, or you'll lose out to your competitors rather quickly. Remember, you want your customers to feel like you care about their experience, so anything that makes transactions easier helps.

Frequently Asked Questions About Direct To Consumer Trends

Direct to consumer businesses are seeing major changes this year with both growth and difficulties on the horizon. To help further clarify things, let's take a look at some of the most common questions business owners have about DTC trends.

What Is The Difference Between DTC And eCommerce?

There are a lot of overlaps between DTC and eCommerce, but DTC means selling directly to the end-user and eCommerce means selling online. DTC businesses can operate brick-and-mortar stores and B2B businesses can sell online, so they aren't the same thing.

Why DTC Is The Future?

Since more markets than ever are opening up each year, DTC businesses are gaining access to massive markets. Rather than sell to resellers at a small margin, businesses are choosing the DTC model and using the internet to make sales.

How Big Is The DTC Market?

In 2021, the DTC market is expected to reach sales of nearly $20 billion worldwide. This is a 15% increase year-over-year and the trend is expected to continue well into the future.

Did We Just Become Best Trends?

The DTC industry is seeing massive growth year-over-year and many small businesses are the biggest winners. Pay attention to the trends above and provide your customers with quality products and superior service to grow your business faster than ever.