How different generations connect with DTC brands

Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z appreciate different values from these companies.

Direct-to-consumer brands are all the rage right now, but the ways in which different generations engage with these companies vary, with millennials being the most frequent DTC consumers, according to new research. 

Millennials, the study from Social Media Link states, like the fact that DTC brands are fun, personalized, have a sense of community and are authentic. The survey, which includes cross-generational responses from 10,846 online participants, reveals that Gen Zers overlap with millennials in their affinity for DTC brands when it comes to fun and community, but they’re also drawn to their strong brand identities and values. Gen X, on the other hand, is drawn to the personalization aspect, while Boomers are into the simplicity of DTC companies.

Despite their differences, all age groups buy personal care DTC products more than other categories (36 percent). Food, beverage and nutrition comes in next at 18 percent across all generations, followed by clothing at 16 percent and accessories at 8 percent. More than half of all people surveyed said they appreciate the convenience of DTC brands. 

When it comes to discovering DTC brands, Facebook takes the top spot across social media platforms, with 40 percent of Millennials turning to the network, followed by Gen X (37 percent), Boomers (32 percent) and Gen Z (22 percent). Recommendations from friends and family comes in next, with 23 percent of Boomers turning to their loved ones, then Gen X (22), Millennials (18 percent)  and Gen Z (17 percent). 

Across the board, all generations expect a seamless omni-channel shopping experience from their DTC brands, the study states. And what do they all want next from this segment? VR shopping, with 41 percent of Gen Z saying that’s what they want from the DTC world, followed by 31 percent of Millennials, 27 percent of Gen X and 18 percent of Boomers.

Susan Frech, CEO of Social Media Link, believes the study results point to the value of brand-owned communities that customize and personalize branded experiences (channels/online communities) for DTC brands. Consumers sign up for these communities and engage in shareable content, reviews, videos and social posts.

"In combination with social, friends or family members are a top source for consumers learning about new DTC brands, highlighting the importance of these personal connections for members of a brand-owned community to help spread the word," said Frech. 

She added that a "brand-owned community can help to reinforce that the brand shares their values, creates a sense of community, and makes consumers feel like they are providing input to the brand, giving that sense of personalization." 

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