Direct to Consumer Vs Traditional Brands: Who Wins?

As part of our series on industries facing disruption today we are looking at direct-to-consumer (DTC) retail brands.

DTC brands have evolved to a point where they’ve reached critical mass and are giving traditional brands a run for their consumers.  Established brands are adapting by modernizing and sometimes even adopting DTC principles. Whether your brand is the challenger or the incumbent, E-Score Brand lets you know the relative strengths and weaknesses of each brand, as shown in the following DTC/traditional brand comparisons. 

Gillette vs. Harry’s

Harry’s, a DTC shaving brand geared towards men, is directly competing with industry juggernauts like Gillette. E-Score Brand data shows Harry’s where they have advantages that can be exploited versus their much larger competitor.

  • Harry’s more than doubles Gillette in the percent of consumers who consider the brand Approachable, Cool and Honest, suggesting that a spokesperson or mascot with those attributes would help enhance their appeal.
  • Harry’s also exceeds Gillette’s scores for the attribute Unique, which is key with millennial and younger consumers. Since Gillette’s Awareness is strongest with men 55+, this represents an area of opportunity for Harry’s.
  • Consumer Comments reveal nuances of consumer perceptions, and those for Harry’s show both strengths and weaknesses. “(Harry’s) is so cool and decent and trustworthy,” raves one consumer, while others expose confusion, with responses like “restaurant” and “their clothing is stylish and great looking and comfortable.”

LensCrafters vs. Warby Parker

LensCrafters has long been a household name in the eyeglasses industry but DTC challenger, Warby Parker, is looking to disrupt the status quo by positioning themselves as a socially conscious alternative. To maintain market share, brands like LensCrafters need to keep an eye on key metrics where they might be losing ground to their fast-rising competitors.

  • Although LensCrafters has a strong advantage over Warby Parker in Awareness (LensCrafters 49%, Warby Parker 8%), the DTC brand leads in many key attributes such as Appeal, Innovative and High-Quality.
  • However, LensCrafters is stronger in Trustworthy, Credible and Family-Friendly, suggesting that targeting the family market, where people are purchasing eyewear not just for themselves, may be a profitable strategy.
  • Consumer Comments again point out the details of consumer opinion, pro and con: “too inconvenient to go to a mall where I live,” complains one consumer, while “new glasses in about an hour” is the appeal for several shoppers.


DTC vs. Traditional Brands

One of E-Score Brand’s strengths is the ability to look at a whole industry or group of competitors. To get a better picture of the DTC trend, we combined the data from 17 different DTC brands. Although these brands come from a diverse set of industries, we noticed several interesting trends.

  • Attributes Innovative, Cutting Edge and Unique seem to favor DTC brands and can serve as a strong selling point among consumers who look to have the latest and greatest product.
  • Use of subscription models has given DTC brands a strong lead in Brand Loyalty with 68% compared to the All-Brand average of 55%.
  • DTC brands have a nearly 50% lead in Have Visited Website vs traditional brands, allowing them to connect directly with their customers while other, better-known brands rely on retail stores and shelf placement for visibility.


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