The future of the D2C model in India

There are numerous D2C success stories in the country, and this, coupled with the pandemic impact, has made investors rally behind the innovative, useful, and agile D2C brands.
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The Indian retail sector is undergoing a revolution, rapidly transcending the boundaries between online and offline. And, the Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) channel is fuelled by its ability to fulfil the customer and business needs with equal ease.

The growth of social media platforms, including Instagram and Facebook, made it easier for manufacturers, retailers, and service providers to directly communicate with their customers.

Courtesy of the D2C route, the conventional layers of the distribution channels are coming off. Products can now directly reach customers from the manufacturer or retailer’s location as the reduction of the supply chain pitstops enhanced the ease of access.

People who buy personal care products, travel services, fashion, fitness, or food products can easily recall seeing ads on Instagram, etc., before visiting the seller’s website and purchasing the desired product. 

India is a mega-market with over 1.35 billion potential customers from diverse cultures and regions. The country is one of the largest global retail destinations, with the market size set to cross $1.7 trillion by 2025.

Moreover, the D2C channels are also growing in sync, expected to be worth over $100 billion by 2025. 

One of the main reasons why people buy a product from any seller is due to their trust in the quality and price offered in comparison to others. This trust and generation of the brand recall are of utmost importance to any D2C brand’s success.

By leveraging online marketing channels (the most popular option among D2C brands), brands establish a two-way communication channel with their audiences.

They hear their customers and address their needs through an emotional connection, which goes a long way in capturing both the online market and converting them into a loyal customer base and organic brand ambassadors.

In the post-pandemic world, this trust and brand recall is going to be the game-changer for brands, especially in personal care, fashion, and wellness segments, making their entry into offline stores.

The key to establishing this strong brand-consumer connection is to constantly innovate the products and marketing strategies based on consumer feedback.

This is crucial as millennial buyers don’t pay much attention to brands that tell them what to buy. Rather, they look for products that address their real-life challenges and needs and often seeks customised solutions. 

As the COVID-19 outbreak forced countries to shut, health and wellness concerns became paramount. And, irrespective of what a company sold, buyers started making their decisions based on the usefulness and safety of the products.

For instance, clean washrooms have been a major challenge across India over the years. In the wake of the pandemic, awareness about toilet seats and surfaces aiding the spread of infections increased.

This has led to a rise in demand for products that can quickly and efficiently sanitise common-use surfaces, including toilet seats, counter-tops, taps, door handles, etc.

This is where the D2C channels have aided various personal hygiene and sanitisation brands to grow rapidly and gain brand reputation and recall.

At present, plenty of new-age technologies such as AI and Data Analytics are leveraged to listen and respond to the customers’ voices.

Companies are constantly listening to their customers on social media and analysing the data available to determine the trends, preferences, apprehensions, and needs of the customers.

This helps brands to quickly and dynamically innovate and offer solutions for customers. Being D2C allows a brand greater flexibility to realign itself, introduce new product ranges, and transform as the operations and supply chains are simpler and leaner. 

Future of D2C brands in India

The Indian D2C sector is going to be hotly contested by the players and investors.

There are numerous D2C success stories in the country, and this, coupled with the pandemic impact, has made investors rally behind the innovative, useful, and agile D2C brands.

The next three to four years are going to be even more exciting in terms of D2C expansion in India.

In fact, there will be significant consolidation as roll-up companies and leading players will go on an acquiring spree to further expand their market command. The market is primed for unicorns and even IPOs in the next few years. 

One of the major factors that will separate D2C winners from the also-runs is the adoption of omnichannel market presence.

The Indian market is peculiar and complex with over a billion potential customers, of which more than half still shop offline. Thus, while online D2C is crucial to building a brand’s pan-India recall and demand, to win the trust of customers in the non-metro cities and small towns, brands have to be present on offline shop shelves.

As per estimates, there are nearly 600 prominent D2C brands in India today, and the number is expected to increase sharply in the years ahead.

Edited by Suman Singh

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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