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LOS ANGELES, California — What are the links between sustainable footwear, men's hair loss treatment and jeans made in an inclusive size range?
They are the hero products of three direct-to-consumer brands: Allbirds, Hims and Good American respectively. They are also the result of entrepreneurs discerning a market opportunity which, coupled with a DTC business model, bypassed traditional retail channels and disrupted their chosen sector.
The panel of entrepreneurs, Hims and Hers Co-Founder Hilary Coles, Allbirds Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Tim Brown and Emma Grede, co-founder and chief executive of Good American, outline elements of brand-building such as adapting to changing social platforms, customer acquisition and their selective approaches to brick-and-mortar retail.
The DTC game, however, is a double-edged sword. Having a direct line to the customer allows companies to foster a sense of community, purpose and real-time feedback — as Brown puts it, product development for Allbirds is "closer to software than it is traditional footwear manufacturing" thanks to its potential for quick turnaround in response to comments — but the vocal nature of many DTC brand customers creates a new culture of accountability. "If you ask customers for feedback," says Grede "my god, you’re going to get it — good or bad or ugly."
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