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In a fashion and beauty market packed with look-alike labels, a new generation of digitally native direct-to-consumer brands are adopting a new playbook, pushing bolder messages and aesthetics starting with their key differentiator: community. Skincare brand Topicals and lingerie label Parade have turned celebrating their customers’ skin issues and body shapes that don’t conform to traditional ideals of beauty into a powerful and authentic marketing centrepiece.
In this episode of the BoF Podcast, Topicals’ co-founders Olamide Olowe and Claudia Teng and Parade’s co-founder and chief executive Cami Téllez speak with BoF senior editorial associate Alexandra Mondalek on the power of community and the new direct-to-consumer model.
The new generation of community-focused DTC brands are abandoning the increasingly standardised marketing playbook that has resulted in a proliferation of identical-looking “blands.” Instead, they’re finding new ways to identify with their customer base. “We now know that branding is about creatively finding where [the customer] is and centring around reintroducing the customer to self-expression,” Téllez explains.
Consumers particularly respond to products that speak to their issues in a way that’s relatable and fun. Digitally native brands have often made the consumer experience “quite sterile and bland and their product experience was lacklustre,” says Topicals’ Olowe. Instead Topicals is “celebrating the fun of flare ups.”
Authenticity is key to building community with the new generation of DTC brands utilising their founders’ stories to speak about their products as customers too. Topicals brings “a different perspective to the way that people experience the beauty community… [and] speaking authentically with our community in a different kind of way,” Teng says.