How’s your relationship?

I was lucky enough to be on vacation this past week and we organized our trip so that we stayed at four different accommodations over the ten day break so we could explore different places. The places we stayed in ranged from big hotels to small BnBs, and the best of the bunch was by far the more intimate, smaller BnB where we had more personal attention and we built a rapport with the guys that ran the place. The experience in this place was something I want to repeat, I felt meaningfully engaged, listened to, taken care of, like we’d built a strong relationship together.
It got me thinking about how this translates to the world of brands. It’s not enough to just identify your target audience in today’s world and speak to them, brands that are winning capitalize on as much contact as possible to forge even stronger bonds with their audience, relationships.
The advent of Digitally Native Vertical Brands (DNVBs) is disrupting the brand landscape as they build closer direct relationships with their customers and leverage data to become even smarter at maintaining their relationships. With direct relationships these brands can gain deeper understanding of their audience, and become more agile with A/B testing of various approaches and measuring quickly responses within the communities they’ve created to then refine how best to connect and engage the audience.
One example of these DNVBs is Glossier. In creating the brand Emily Weiss first built a connection with her audience via her blog. With an engaged community she then was set to develop a socially-driven direct brand relationship with her audience. She showed the value of listening to the audience and maintaining a relationship with them. Read more about the Glossier journey here.


It’s no wonder then that traditional CPG is paying close attention to DNVBs like this. Glossier and Away founders were invited to speak at latest IAB Annual Leadership Meeting. The acknowledgement of what they’ve achieved as signal of the way forward demonstrates there’s much to learn from these guys. See this AdAge great article where the chart below that illustrates the new dynamic these DNVBs command putting data first is explained… 21st century brands

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The concept of forging stronger relationships can also be seen with the fast growing winners in direct-selling brand models. Rodan+Fields are prime examples of this. For the past six years revenues have surged an average of 93% a year, growing from $24 million in 2010 to $627 million in 2015 according to Forbes. Read more about R+F’s extraordinary journey here.
Direct selling is rooted in personal relationships between Representative and Customer as its foundation and so perfectly placed to fuel deeper relationships. What R+F have succeeded in doing is creating a community-based digital social model. Further evidence of the point above regarding a data-driven approach with close contact with a connected community is critical today.
The world is ever evolving and where big brands used to rule based on the size of the capital behind them, today brands win with smarter use of data and engaged communities to forge closer and stronger relationships with their customers.

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