Direct-To-Consumer Businesses Are Suffering, Here’s Why

Direct-to-consumer businesses like Warby Parker are under immense strain after riding a wave of seemingly unstoppable success.

By Joseph Farago | Published

direct-to-consumer businesses

A new marketing trend surfaced during the pandemic’s frustrating stretch. This trend removes exterior outlets and tries to connect to customers directly. Brands like Warby Parker and Allbirds targeted consumers without external websites or corporations, utilizing the sole power of the internet. Today, for many reasons, direct-to-consumer businesses are under massive constraints.

When these brands adopted this rapid model for targeting customers, their stock shares exploded. Warby Parker, Stitch Fix, and Figs experienced a rise in share prices due to no longer paying for external ads or having burdensome middlemen. The direct-to-customer businesses brought an evergrowing pool of customers to the companies, new consumers magically appearing without additional costs. Though seemingly an unstoppable business model, these companies are now being threatened by higher Facebook ad prices and excessive shipping costs.

Brands like Warby Parker and Stitch Fix that were able to grow their company into the billions during the pandemic now anticipate a looming crash. An analysis by Big Technology for direct-to-consumer businesses reported that any businesses with market caps over $800 million are experiencing a plethora of consequences infringing upon further revenue increases. Today, these billionaire companies are constricting under pressure, already doing poorly in the early months of 2022.

The environment that allowed direct-to-consumer businesses in early 2020 is now hostile, with more financial hurdles for corporations wishing to adopt the model. The most significant burden has been the inflated price for ads, especially Facebook ads. Once an affordable place for the direct-to-consumer business expansion, Facebook is now charging companies large sums for the same amount of ads. The rising demand for virtual ads has allowed Facebook to increase its prices to unaffordable heights.

For many direct-to-consumer businesses that reached billion-dollar market caps during the pandemic, many didn’t have brand recognition before using virtual ads. As a vital part of the direct-to-consumer prices, social media applications now see the invaluable nature of their ads. Costs for ads reaching 1,000 people have tripled over the last two years, with Facebook charging $6 in 2020 to $18 in 2022. This exponential increase in ad price has been occurring everywhere, leaving businesses in a vexing position to find affordable virtual ads.

Even outside the rising prices for ads, direct-to-consumer businesses have other complex factors that hinder a company’s online performance. Though it’s easy to sign up for any social media account, accruing a following is more tricky. Consistent, daily engagement on the company Instagram or TikTok is the only imperative factor to finding relative success on the overcrowded internet. Building infrastructure, setting up privacy measures, and fighting fraudulent payment scams are other components direct-to-consumer businesses need to think about when starting their online venture.

Though direct-to-consumer businesses were off to an incredible start, new restraints and a harsh economy have put substantial barriers to their growth. Increased prices on imports, shipping, and general goods have put online businesses in a bind to make large profits off minimal expenses. Shipping products to the US from China is eight times more expensive than pre-pandemic times. The cost for everything direct-to-consumer businesses need have escalated unfathomably, stopping the success of virtual markets nationwide.