Steal these tips to compete with digitally native vertical brands (and do more marketing you can be proud of!)

Steal these tips to compete with digitally native vertical brands (and do more marketing you can be proud of!)

February 9, 2021
When did you first hear about Casper? Digitally native vertical brands (DNVBs) have taken commerce by storm. In fact, DNVBs are growing nearly three times as fast as the average ecommerce retailer. They’re agile, charming, and offer the je ne sais quoi that today’s shoppers love. Casper, Dollar Shave Club, and dozens of other brands are succeeding by taking advantage of opportunities that the larger brands are not always ready for.
Huge brands often have established names, values, and processes that drive their day-to-day. However there are a few noteworthy aspects of DNVBs that brands of all kinds will want to know. Even if you can’t start from scratch and capture the magic that these new brands offer, you can steal these six tactics to stay competitive.

1. Be Instagram-worthy

You don’t have to use influencers. You don’t have to turn to memes. However, brands do need to start seeing their content as social collateral. While shoppers still expect clear product images, they’re going to remember everything else. While Instagram is an easy example, it’s not the only place brands should make a difference. The key is ensuring the content is truly, hands-down engaging and fabulous. Even in physical shops, experience is being prioritized over shelf space.
Podcast advertising offers a great example. There is a rise in host-delivered ads within podcasts, meaning the ad is not simply recorded once and then sent all over the world. The ad is tailored and that particular speaker ads their personal pizazz. As Ariana Martin, senior manager, offline growth marketing at Babbel, explains, “because of this personal element, I am not sure if podcast marketing can ever be transformed into a pure data game.” Not every piece of content needs to be hand-tailored, but it needs to have as much personality as something you might get from a hungry, newly-launched DNVB.
When in doubt, ask: would I share this? Would I listen to this?

2. Go for personality not price

Shoppers these days still care about price. However most are willing to spend more if they think it’s worthwhile. PWC found that customers are willing to pay up to 16% more on a product if they’ve had a great experience. Another study found that 31% of shoppers would pay 10-24% more for organic products. There has always been a huge connection between how a brand is perceived and what they are able to charge for products. However the younger generations of shoppers care much more about what brands stand for than their predecessors did.
This is especially important today, when similar products can be found on hundreds of sites and for a wide array of prices. An interview from Bloomberg sums up today’s shoppers nicely:
“'There’s this misconception that we’re scrolling mindlessly,’ Ahmed says. What Gen Z’s actually doing is connecting and communicating and figuring things out — like where to spend their money.”
The question is not “how much is this product worth?” The only question is “how much will shoppers connect with this and with the brand?”

3. Feel the fire of a start-up

How is that possible when these companies are often startups with limited funds? It’s all about mindset.
One thing all startups have - that an established brand will not - is the fire to break through. This openness and lack of processes to fall back on is a huge boon. They have to achieve big results with minimal resources. In other words, they think outside of the box because they have to. It’s difficult for established marketing teams to add new initiatives and channels into their stack, but it’s important to recognize that what has worked in the past won’t always work in the future.
New marketing channels and initiatives are a risk, but what’s the risk of not taking them?

4. Think vertical

Just about every marketer is guilty of advertising their product with company-centered messaging. It’s hard to get into the mindset of a customer and understand exactly what they want and what will speak to them. This gets increasingly difficult as your audience grows. You might be selling the same products users in ten different verticals. While those audiences are all similar, they are not the same. Small vertical-specific companies know this. They know the vertical in which they sell, and they are always laser-focused on themes within their vertical. They are also likely to understand competitors within the vertical as well as integration possibilities that are uniquely popular within different sectors.
No matter what you’re selling, users in different verticals want to be spoken to correctly. This is especially true in B2B, where audiences are highly professional and need to know that a brand fully understands their complex needs.

5. Fear Amazon and learn from it

What has Amazon done better than almost any other site? Achieved perfection in the world of product experiences. The giant seems to always know what shoppers want. It knows what products are winning and which are not. It does this by mastering a huge amount of data.
Most likely, you’re already doing a lot with data. It helps run targeted ads on social media or search engines. It ensures that email nurturing is optimized and successful. But are you missing something? On-site search is one place where brands and retailers often lose - and Amazon wins. Sure, most web shops will support on-site search, but it is not fully optimized. Shops like these aren’t offering a seamless, easy experience. They’re offering minimal functionality.
It is often easier for DNVBs to take control of their data for two reasons: - They have less of it – smaller audiences and fewer products - They have always been tracking, segmenting, and using data.

Evaluate every part of the shopper journey as well as every step you take as a marketer. Where can product or user data be added?

Don’t forget the product data

Marketers are already using product data to create dynamic ads or product listings, but most are not taking full advantage of it. Product data can be cleaned up and optimized to create more targeted, memorable dynamic ads. It can be leveraged to create powerful on-site search options or even more exact nurturing.
Dive into the future of retail, and learn how to use the latest tech and trends to create engaging customer experiences and boost sales. Download Raconteur's Future of Retail report for free.
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Hannah Augur
Senior Content Creator