Unraveling consumer trends to navigate the D2C opportunity
Consumer commerce is undergoing a paradigm shift with the developments in the digital ecosystem. With the accelerated exposure to online shopping, consumers are constantly experimenting with brands through multiple touchpoints and channels. In response, marketers are in a race to decode consumer behaviour and keep up with the changing environment. The direct-to-consumer (D2C) space presents an immense opportunity for brands to leverage the digital shift. Projected to grow at a CAGR of 40% from USD 12 billion in 2022, the D2C space is expected to surpass USD 60 billion by 2027.
Within these evolving dynamics, CNBCTV18.com and Quora hosted an online webinar, themed ‘Unravelling D2C Trends’, to shine a spotlight on the incredible D2C opportunity that has been fuelled by irreversible shifts in consumer behaviour, and provide insights that will enable marketers to break new ground and keep up with the competition.
Highlights from the panel discussion
The virtual event showcased leading industry experts sharing their views on the D2C spectrum and emerging trends in that universe. The panel included Vanda Ferrao – Chief Marketing Officer of Wow Skin Science, Deep Bajaj – Founder of Sirona Hygiene, Shashank Mehta – Founder and CEO of The Whole Truth Foods, Pallab Roy – Partner at KPMG in India and Gurmit Singh – General Manager, APAC and MEA at Quora.
Setting the tone for the discussion was a study, conducted by KPMG in India in association with Quora, which highlighted insightful consumer trends by analyzing Quora user behaviour across various categories in the D2C market. The report was released with the objective to uncover the evolving preferences and behaviour of new-age consumers in categories like skincare, beauty and cosmetics, packaged food, and pet care, to help D2C brands in those spaces with their marketing strategies. The report revealed that content consumption trends in the mentioned categories changed drastically in mid-2022. Until then, legacy brands had the highest amount of content views on Quora but thereafter, the top 3 new-age D2C brands surpassed the content views of the top 3 legacy brands.
Gurmit Singh observed that legacy brands have established distribution channels and high brand awareness due to the fact that they have been around for a while; it has helped them scale in the past. However, they tend to be rather traditional in their approach. “In this fast-paced age, it is very important to keep pace with and leverage digital technology to achieve growth of a brand. New age D2C brands are very aggressive; they’re digitally savvy and have been building content online very effectively,” he noted, adding that brands could pick up insights from the report and from Quora and amplify the ones which drive their growth.
Elaborating further on the findings of the report, KPMG’s Pallab Roy explained that consumers are exhibiting true omnichannel behaviour. They seek convenience, personalization, and purpose from brands and those which are able to address these values find their way into the mind space and wallet-share of consumers. “Both new-age and legacy brands must ensure that they have an omnichannel play. Legacy brands have to step up their online presence while D2C brands must improve their offline game. Additionally, to succeed in a highly competitive D2C market, brands must provide a personalized and tailored experience,” he advised.
As the discussion progressed, the D2C industry leaders shared their experiences in the segment. Deep Bajaj began by stating that the category where Sirona operates – women’s hygiene, is shrouded in taboos. But digital platforms came to its rescue, becoming a natural playground for the brand. “We were able to use social media and platforms like Quora to start conversations around sensitive topics and create communities where women could discuss these issues far more openly,” he shared, “Such platforms have been the single largest growth factor in the Sirona journey.”
In addition to the ability to drive conversations, Vanda Ferrao credited platforms like Quora with the power to enable brands to harness curiosity. She opined, “Curiosity is the bedrock of change. The internet and particularly forums like Quora offer strong platforms for consumers to seek answers. Their natural curiosity leads them to go online and with the help of keywords, searches, etc., they find answers to their queries,” she said, adding that another benefit of curiosity is that brands like Wow Skin Science are constantly monitoring new trends so they can tap into new ideas and create products that are in demand.
No discussion about branding, social media, and D2C is complete without a mention of content and Shashank Mehta narrated how his brand – The Whole Truth Foods was actually born out of a blog that he used to write before he founded the company. “Consumers are yearning for brands that are experts in one zone or the other and can connect with normal human beings. They want to see brands share honest, informative content with them,” he observed. There is a massive playing field of trust which has been left empty by big brands and journalism, which is waiting to be filled by trustworthy and informative content on social media.
Leveraging curiosity, recommendation and engagement on Quora to drive results
Gurmit Singh shared some tips and tricks on how D2C marketers can leverage the conversations on Quora. Noting that Quora is a place where people come to share and grow the world’s knowledge, he advised “Given that the D2C user is very discerning, it is important to whet the curiosity by educating the user. One good way we recommend is taking higher ground on this and educating the user on what are the benefits of the particular product and how it could be relevant to them.”
While educating the curious consumer is the first priority, he explained that another aspect that marketers need to focus on is the topics and keywords targeted. “Quora extensively uses machine learning to help advertisers reach out to more and more people and the right people. So if you pick up topics and keywords that are relevant to you, ML can give you a lot of topics that have an affinity to this topic.” Just as important as picking the right topics is effectively using the targeting tools whether it is contextual targeting to target users while they are reading relevant content or behavioural targeting which targets users based on their interests in the recent past. Last but not the least, he underlined the importance of personalization and advised brands to formulate media and marketing strategies on the basis of individual insights to ensure that they stay ahead in the mushrooming D2C market.
Successfully leveraging the D2C market can be daunting, even for seasoned marketers, as potential consumers are bombarded with information and a plethora of choices, through multiple touch-points across channels. To drive meaningful engagement, create personalized content, and post it where it will create impact, marketers must know their audiences and be aware of trends in the space. The KPMG-Quora Report on Unravelling the D2C wave in India’s consumer commerce has highlighted many trends and insights that could be invaluable to brands.