“The DTC landscape continues to evolve as both new and mainstream brands enter the playing field. What once conjured up images of small start-ups looking to disrupt their industries, the term DTC has evolved to include a variety of brands bringing their products and an elevated shopping experience to consumers. The overall enhanced shopping experience these brands can provide is attracting consumers to their offerings. Moving forward, as DTC brands continue to drive awareness and engagement with consumers, the DTC approach will continue to be an integral part of the retail landscape.”
– Katie Yackey, eCommerce Analyst

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the direct-to-consumer landscape
  • The lingering effects of the recession on consumers’ online shopping behavior
  • Motivators and barriers toward shopping DTC brands
  • The importance of physical stores and an omnichannel strategy

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • COVID-19: Market context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Total US retail ecommerce sales and forecast, at current prices, 2015-25
    • Impact of COVID-19 on ecommerce and DTC
      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on ecommerce and DTC retailing, January 2020
    • Opportunities and Challenges
    • Consumers can shop smart with their hearts
    • Leverage the power of partnerships
    • Adopt a DTC approach to improve the overall shopping experience
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • eCommerce continues to be a main source for shopping
    • Providing various means of value
    • Tech leads to a more personalized shopping experience
    • Mainstream brands enter the DTC arena
  4. Market Size and Forecast

    • Growth continues
      • Figure 3: Total US retail ecommerce sales and forecast, at current prices, 2015-25
    • Macroeconomic factors
    • Singing the DPI blues
      • Figure 4: Disposable Personal Income change from previous period, January 2007-November 2020
    • Consumer confidence lags pre-COVID levels
      • Figure 5: Consumer Sentiment Index, January 2007-November 2020
    • Impact of COVID-19 on ecommerce and direct-to-consumer retailing
      • Figure 6: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on ecommerce and DTC retailing, January 2021
    • Lockdown
    • Re-emergence
    • Recovery
    • COVID-19: US context
    • Learnings from the last recession
  5. Market Factors

    • Showcasing affordable, high quality in a rocky financial situation
      • Figure 7: Unemployment and underemployment, January 2007- November 2020
    • Correlate a brand name to a good cause
      • Figure 8: Allbirds Black Friday Initiative
    • Technology enables a constant connection
    • Blocked acquisitions give way to competition
  6. Market Opportunities

    • Mainstream brands enter the DTC space
      • Figure 9: PepsiCo’s pantry shop website launch
    • Partnering with major retailers
      • Figure 10: Quip at retailers
    • Leveraging tech for a personalized shopping experience
      • Figure 11: Fenty Beauty shade match
    • DTC brands give way to conscious shopping
  7. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Pushing for a better tomorrow
    • Redefining the path to value
    • New food delivery method
  8. Competitive Strategies

    • Partnering for the greater good
      • Figure 12: Allbirds and Adidas partnership
    • Stepping up the value proposition
      • Figure 13: Italic shoes
    • A new way to get chips quick
  9. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Consumers are highly aware of DTC efforts
    • DTC brands are partners for overwhelmed consumers
    • Consumers don’t miss the middleman
    • Consumers seek out local to support communities
    • Physical stores remain an important strategy
  10. Consumer Trend Drivers and DTC Retailing

    • DTC brands can foster a stronger connection with consumers
    • Technology
      • Figure 14: Technology
    • Value
      • Figure 15: Value
    • Experiences
      • Figure 16: Experiences
    • Surroundings, Rights and Identity
      • Figure 17: Rights, Identity, Surroundings
  11. Consumer Knowledge of DTC Companies

    • Awareness of DTC grows during the pandemic
      • Figure 18: DTC companies known, October 2020
      • Figure 19: Glossier
    • Opportunities reign aplenty
      • Figure 20: Purchases from DTC, October 2020
      • Figure 21: Purchases from DTC, by generations, October 2020
    • Expanding the direct-to-consumer model
      • Figure 22: DTC purchase frequency year over year, October 2020
      • Figure 23: DTC purchase frequency year over year, October 2020
    • Prosperity after the pandemic
      • Figure 24: Impact of COVID-19 on future plans, October 2020
  12. Consumer Attitudes toward DTC brands

    • DTC brands are consumers’ partners in shopping
      • Figure 25: Attitudes toward DTC brands, October 2020
    • How consumers find value can vary by gender
      • Figure 26: Attitudes toward DTC brands, by gender, October 2020
    • DTC approach increases competition within categories
      • Figure 27: Impact of COVID-19, October 2020
    • Getting personal and sparking joy with Millennials
      • Figure 28: Impact of COVID-19, by generation, October 2020
  13. Motivation and Likes About DTC Brands

    • Use value-driven options to encourage consumers to shop
      • Figure 29: Reasons for purchasing DTC, October 2020
    • Younger consumers want a say in their product design
      • Figure 30: Reasons for purchasing DTC, by generation, October 2020
    • DTC adds to the value equation by cutting out the middleman
      • Figure 31: What consumers like about DTC, October 2020
    • Help younger consumers feel a part of the brand family
      • Figure 32: What consumers like about DTC, by generation, October 2020
  14. Barriers and Dislikes About DTC Brands

    • Becoming, and staying, top of mind is critical
      • Figure 33: Reasons for not purchasing DTC, October 2020
      • Figure 34: Function of Beauty at Target
    • Build younger consumers’ confidence along the purchase journey
      • Figure 35: Reasons for not purchasing DTC, by generation, October 2020
    • DTCs aren’t immune to ecommerce barriers
      • Figure 36: Dislikes about DTC, October 2020
    • Improve the post-purchase processes
      • Figure 37: Dislikes about DTC, by generation, October 2020
  15. The Role of Physical Stores

    • Leveraging the physical world to drive engagement in the digital world
      • Figure 38: Motivations to visit a DTC store, October 2020
      • Figure 39: TURF Analysis – Motivations for visiting a DTC store, October 2020
    • Younger generations just want to have fun
      • Figure 40: Motivations to visit a DTC store, by generation, October 2020
    • Give consumers avenues to explore
      • Figure 41: Attitudes toward DTC stores, October 2020
    • Driving urgency through exclusivity
      • Figure 42: Attitudes toward DTC stores, by generation, October 2020
  16. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Forecast
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  17. Appendix – The Consumer

      • Figure 43: DTC stores visited, October 2020
      • Figure 44: DTC companies known, by generation, October 2020

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.


Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.


Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.


Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.


Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our tables of data are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

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