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The recent explosion of health and wellness didn’t happen at random. Rather, there are a number of clear reasons so many companies operating within the industry have been able to succeed in the last few years.
An emerging middle-class of young and aging shoppers alike, greater prevalence of chronic diseases, and exponential advances in digital technologies continue to drive demand. Add to this consumers’ increasing preference for natural offerings, ethical and sustainable products, and healthy-lifestyle options and you’ve got the perfect recipe.
DTC—that is, direct-to-consumer—eCommerce has proven to be an effective way for startup companies in a variety of industries to make a name for themselves in recent years.
As the name suggests, direct-to-consumer companies sell their products or services directly to the end-user, rather than selling to retailers or other middlemen and having them turn around and sell your products to the consumer.
As reported by Toluna in March 2019, over half of consumers surveyed said they’d be open to doing business with DTC companies offering personal care or beauty products.
|Will likely try in the future||Purchased in the past|
|Personal care & beauty
(e.g., Glossier, Harry's, Dollar Shave Club)
|Clothing & apparel
(e.g., Allbirds, Everlane, Bonobos)
|Food & drink
(e.g., HelloFresh, Blue Apron, Freshly)
|Travel & transportation
(e.g., Away, Uber, Airbnb)
(e.g., Ollie, BarkBox, KitNipBox)
|Home & furnishings
(e.g., Casper, Brooklinen, Brandless)
|Marketplace & rental chains
(e.g., OfferUp, Jet.com, Letgo)
|Wealth management & financial services
(e.g., Wealthfront, Acorns, Robinhood)
|Note: n = 896 ages 18+; among internet users who have purchase a direct-to-consumer brand;
*our used services from
Source: Toluna, "D2C Survey", May 6, 2019
But it’s not that the modern consumer is willing to give DTC brands a shot “just because.” Rather, the reason they’re more apt to check out these brands is because they know what DTC brands are capable of bringing to the table:
When wholesaling, whether your end-user buys your products from a brick-and-mortar store, big-box site, or a marketplace, their entire shopping experience will be wrapped in the retailer’s brand—not yours. Sure, you might offer a high-quality product—but that’s really all you’ll be providing them.
Again, if selling through a retailer, you’re basically at their mercy when it comes to delivery cost and lead time: Your end-users will receive their orders according to the retailer’s delivery process.
DTC companies, on the other hand, have the power to optimize their fulfillment processes to their customers’ expectations. One-upping retail competitors in this area will certainly bode well for DTC companies looking to build trust among their target audience.
Rather than selling their products wholesale to retailers at a discounted price-per-unit, DTC companies can offer prices that are comparable to retail averages within the industry. In turn, DTC companies can end up making way more money per-unit than when selling products wholesale.
Since eCommerce’s inception, one of its most obvious selling points has been its convenience to the consumer. The nature of eCommerce is such that you can have products delivered, or be given access to digital services, while sitting on your couch with just a few clicks of your mouse.
Of course, this is eCommerce 101 by today’s standards.
In recent years, eCommerce health and wellness companies have doubled-down on their efforts to provide convenient and reliable service to their customers by allowing them to subscribe to different types of recurring subscription services.
This simple approach means consumers will always have sufficient (product) on hand at all times. Moreover, once they’ve set up their subscription, they won’t have to go through the process of inputting repeat orders ad infinitum.
Another way to provide convenience and value to consumers is by offering curation-focused bundles, also known as “kitting.” Here, the idea is to collect related products or resources to ease first-time purchase decisions and increase average order value (AOV).
Incausa does this at a variety of price points:
Finally, many health and wellness brands have chosen to go the access-based subscription route. With these brands, consumers pay a recurring premium for access to the company’s product or service library.
In most cases, the company will offer products or services at a lower price than competing retailers do—with the understanding that the cost of subscription is built into the overall cost to the customer.
Take a behind-the-scenes look at Incausa’s operations, particularly the importance of visibility into their customers, suppliers and orders:
The last key driver of growth within the health and wellness eCommerce industry is social eCommerce.
As is the case in many retail industries, channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have enabled health and wellness brands to engage with their target audiences in ways that simply weren’t possible mere decades ago.
And customers love it. Case in point, shares of health- or beauty-focused social media posts amount to almost a third of all brand-related social media shares:
More than just engaging with health and wellness brands on social media, consumers are now able to actually purchase from said brands directly on their social media channels.
Example of Instagram Shopping from Incausa
For the customer, this removes the friction involved in hopping from app to app, or site to site. For the company, it means a higher chance of converting their social media followers through the use of well-placed, engaging content.
While you don’t necessarily need to hop on all three of these bandwagons to experience success in the health and wellness industry, you definitely want to at least consider how doing so might benefit your business.
As we’ll discuss, you’ll need to dig deep into your audience data to figure out what your target customers want from your brand—and work relentlessly to bring this value to them as best you can.