The Best Direct-to-Consumer Brands of 2019

The Growth of DTC Brands

When pondering the most radical transformation in retail over the last ten years, what comes to mind? Many praise technology because, well, it’s true. You can’t understate the impact of Amazon, social media, and smart devices on consumer behavior. But just as important has been the direct-to-consumerization of everything.

 

Unfamiliar with the “Direct-to-Consumer” (also called DTC or D2C) movement? The phrase describes the stampede of hip, digital-first brands selling everyday items online that you used to buy at a store or from a third party wholesaler. Beyond a stunning social media presence, DTC brands offer greater convenience, typically via a subscription model that ships your orders on autopilot, directly to your door. Products range from fresh dog food to underwear, produce boxes to contact lenses, and just about everything in between.

 

With 8 or 9 figure revenues and billion-dollar acquisitions, many popular DTC brands are disrupting their industry. For example, Gillette’s share of the U.S. men’s razor market fell from 70% to 54% between 2010 and 2016 — precisely the same time brands such as Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s carved out their own sizable slices of the pie. Unilever then responded by purchasing Dollar Shave Cub for a cool billion (with a “b”). Meanwhile, the same trend of rapid disruption and acquisition took hold beyond just shaving across a wide variety of product categories.

 

So who are the leading DTC brands, you ask? We put together a Top 40 list. Check it out below:

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Top 40 Direct-to-Consumer Brands

Scroll down to explore the best DTC brands of 2019, and learn about our methodology for choosing them. Spoiler: it involved scoring based on weighting metrics such as funding, web traffic, and follower counts as proxies for brand awareness.



Hims is an online pharmacy with treatments for male hair loss, ED, cold sores, anti-smoking, & more.
$197m San Francisco


Keeps prescribes premium men's hair loss meds online.
$22.8m NYC


Nurx is a leader in online birth control and STI testing for women.
$93.4m San Francisco


Roman is an online pharmacy offering prescriptions for men's hair loss, ED, Premature ejaculation, & more.
$176.1m
NYC


Waldo manufactures affordable daily contact lenses and sells them direct to consumers online .
$6.8m
London


Blink Health is an online pharmacy for a wide range of prescription medications.
$165m NYC


Rory helps women in Menopause with treatments for vaginal dryness, latisse, and more.
$176.1m NYC


Zero is anti-smoking gum designed to help you kick your nicotine habit.
$176.1m NYC


Cove is the only DTC brand focuses on migraine relief treatments.
$22.8m NYC


Hubble offers an affordable daily contact lens subscription.
$73.7m NYC


Lemonaid is an online pharmacy offering wide rng of prescription medications.
$20.7m
San Francisco


Hers sells prescription birth control, anxiety meds, and acne treatments for women online.
$197m San Francisco
Personal hygiene and care

Curology prescribes personalized prescription acne treatments.
$22.6m San Diego
Personal hygiene and care

Billie is a hip women's razor blade brand and shave subscription.
$35m NYC
Personal hygiene and care

Lola is a leader in 100% organic cotton tampons.
$35.2m NYC
Personal hygiene and care

Quip sells sleek and portable electric toothbrushes that are ideal for travellers.
$62.2m NYC




Aloha delivers organic plant-based protein snacks.
$4.5m NYC




Blue Apron is a household name in gourmet meal delivery for easy at-home cooking.
IPO NYC




Drizly is the fastest alcohol delivery app, bringing you booze in 60 minutes or less.
$69.6m Boston




Graze offers delivers nutritious snack boxes.
Acquired by Unilever London




Grove is a marketplace for healthier groceries and home essentials.
$165.8m San Francisco




Hint ships fruit infused bottled water directly to your door.
$6.8m San Francisco




Home Chef is a leading fresh meal kit delivery subscription.
Acquired by Kroger Chicago




Hungry Harvest offers farm-to-doorstep produce delivery.
$.5m Baltimore




Imperfect Foods ships a fresh produce subscription box for 30% less than stores.
$47.1m San Francisco




Natural Force offers whole food nutrition products.
Unknown Jacksonville




Noble Brewer sends you the most delicious homebrewed beers from around the country.
Unknown Oakland




Noom is a leading weight-loss app for building healthier habits.
$114.7m NYC




HungryRoot delivers healthy meals ready to eat in <10 minutes.
$35.4m NYC




HVMN (formerly Nootroobox) sells supplements that support brain and body function.
$2.6m San Francisco




Ollie is a leading fresh dog food subscription service.
$17m NYC




Ora offers nutritious, plant-based health supplements.
Unknown San Diego




PAct Coffee delivers premium coffee to your home or office.
$2.3m London




Paleo Treats packages the most amazing paleo desserts into a monthly subscription.
Unknown San Diego




Pet Plate offers a fresh dog food subscription to keep your furry friends healthy.
$4m NYC




Ritual sells personalized vitamin formulations for women.
$40.5m Los Angeles




Thrive is a members-only market for sustainably-sourced organic goods.
$161.9m Los Angeles




Freshly prepares chef-cooked, healthy meals and delivers them to your door.
$107m NYC

How did we come up with this list of DTC brands?

With so many Direct-to-Consumer companies out there, we needed a framework to choose only 40. We wanted to be objective and name the most legitimate and likely to stick around for the long haul. Starting by gathering a fairly comprehensive list of well-known DTC companies we knew personally or could find in public databases like Crunchbase and CBinsights (excluding fashion, for now), we scored them based on 5 key empirical metrics. We then assigned each of those core metrics a weight (out of 100% total) based on the strength of the signal:

 

  • Venture capital funding – 25%
  • Website’s monthly unique visitors – 25%
  • Instagram – 16.67%
  • Facebook – 16.67%
  • Twitter – 16.67%

 

Next we needed to calculate individual scores between 1 and 10 for each key metric. So we established ranges for each KPI with evenly-tiered point values. As an example, here’s how we assigned points for venture funding:

 

  • 1 point for funding <$5,000,000
  • 2 points for $5,000,000 – $20,000,000
  • 3 points for $20,000,000 – $35,000,000
  • 4 points for  $35,000,000 – $50,000,000
  • 5 points for $50,000,000 – $65,000,000
  • 6 points for $65,000,000 – $80,000,000
  • 7 points for  $80,000,000 – $95,000,000
  • 8 points for $95,000,000 – $110,000,000
  • 9 points  for $110,000,000 – $125,000,000
  • 10 points – $125,000,000+

 

For example, a DTC brand with $42 million in funding would score a 4. After doing this for all five metrics, we calculated the score using the formula below:

 

Overall score = (VC Funding Score*.25) + (Unique_visitors_score*.25) + ( Instagram_followers_score*.167) + (Facebook_followers_score*.167) + (Twitter_followers_score*.167)

And what exactly defines a “Direct-to-Consumer Brand”?

So is any company that delivers technically “Direct to consumer”? Not exactly. Let’s take a step back and fully define what we mean by a “DTC brand”. In the traditional value chain for retailers, brands managed everything from design, production and marketing before passing the baton to larger retailers for distribution and sales. As an example, most tampon producers used to only sell to retailers like brick and mortar pharmacies or on third party marketplaces like Amazon. These third party intermediaries were the only way brands knew how to sell to their end customer.

 

Direct-to-Consumer brands are different because they take on the distribution and sales of their product themselves. They opt not to pass the baton, which not only gives brands more control of the customer journey, but also increases profits. Over time, it tends to be more efficient for brands to take on the work themselves. The consumer benefits because DTC companies often pass on these savings to their customers in the form of lower prices, or by subsidizing a better experience (i.e. free shipping, introductory offers, etc.). In general, it’s a win for consumers, and presents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Want your DTC product added to the list?

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