Best Direct-to-Consumer Brands of 2020

About D2C products

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.

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Top 40 direct-to-consumer brands

Best D2C brands

OverviewFunding($) & HQ locationRelated ReviewsCategory
ApostropheApostrophe is an online pharmacy offering prescriptions for men's hair loss, ED, Premature ejaculation, & more.6.1m, OaklandApostrophe skincare review: https://finvsfin.com/apostrophe-reviews/

Himshims is an online dermatologist with telemedicine treatments for acne, hair loss, wrinkles, Rosacea, & more. Use code FIN10 at checkout for $10 off.197m, NYCHims vs Rogain review: https://finvsfin.com/hims-vs-rogaine/

nurxNurx is a leader in online birth control and STI testing for women.93.4m, San FranciscoNurx birth control review: https://finvsfin.com/nurx-reviews/

KeepsKeeps prescribes premium men's hair loss meds online.22.8m, NYCHims vs Roman vs Keeps: https://finvsfin.com/hims-vs-roman-vs-keeps/

RomanRoman is an online pharmacy offering prescriptions for men's hair loss, ED, Premature ejaculation, & more.176.1m, NYCRoman PE review: https://finvsfin.com/roman-premature-ejaculation-reviews/

Blink HealthBlink Health is an online pharmacy for a wide range of prescription medications.165m, NYCBlink health review: https://finvsfin.com/blink-health-reviews/

RoryRory helps women in Menopause with treatments for vaginal dryness, latisse, and more.176.1m, NYCRory vs latisse: https://finvsfin.com/rory-latisse-review/

ZeroZero is anti-smoking gum designed to help you kick your nicotine habit.176.1m, NYCZero smoking cessation review: https://finvsfin.com/zero-smoking-cessation-reviews/

coveCove is the only DTC brand focuses on migraine relief treatments.22.8m, NYCCove Migrain Relief Review: https://finvsfin.com/cove-migraine-reviews/

LemonaidLemonaid is an online pharmacy offering wide range of prescription medications.20.7m, San FranciscoRoman vs Lemonaid: https://finvsfin.com/roman-vs-lemonaid/

hersHers sells prescription birth control, anxiety meds, and acne treatments for women online.197m, San Franciscoproactive vs curology vs hers: https://finvsfin.com/proactiv-vs-curology-vs-hers/

CurologyCurology prescribes personalized prescription acne treatments.22.6m, San Diegoproactive vs curology vs hers: https://finvsfin.com/proactiv-vs-curology-vs-hers/

HubbleHubble offers an affordable daily contact lens subscription.73.7m, NYCHubble vs waldo: https://finvsfin.com/hubble-vs-waldo/

WaldoWaldo manufactures affordable daily contact lenses and sells them direct to consumers online.6.8m, LondonHubble vs Waldo: https://finvsfin.com/hubble-vs-waldo/

BillieBillie is a hip women's razor blade brand and shave subscription.35m, NYCbillie vs Flamingo vs Venus: https://finvsfin.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Billie_logo.png
ModibodiModibodi is popular brand of leak-proof period panties for women.Australiamodibodi vs Ruby Love: https://finvsfin.com/ruby-love-vs-modibodi/
quipQuip sells sleek and portable electric toothbrushes that are ideal for travellers.62.2m, NYCQuip vs Goby vs Sonicare: https://finvsfin.com/quip-vs-goby-vs-sonicare/
DrizlyDrizly is the fastest alcohol delivery app, bringing you booze in 60 minutes or less.69.9m, BostonDrizly vs Saucey: https://finvsfin.com/drizly-vs-saucey/

grazeGraze offers delivers nutritious snack boxes.Acquired by Unilever, LondonComing soon

GroveGrove is a marketplace for healthier groceries and home essentials.165.8m, San FranciscoComing soon

HintHint ships fruit infused bottled water directly to your door.6.8m, San FranciscoComing soon

Home ChefHome Chef is a leading fresh meal kit delivery subscription.Acquired by Kroger, ChicagoComing soon

Hungry HarvestHungry Harvest offers farm-to-doorstep produce delivery.0.5m, BaltimoreMisfits Market vs Imperfect Produce vs Hungry Harvest: https://finvsfin.com/misfits-market-vs-imperfect-foods-vs-hungry-harvest/

Imperfect FoodsImpefect Foods ships a fresh produce subscription box for 30% less than stores.47.1m, San FranciscoMisfits Market vs Imperfect Produce vs Hungry Harvest: https://finvsfin.com/misfits-market-vs-imperfect-foods-vs-hungry-harvest/

NoomNoom is a leading weight-loss app for building healthier habits.114.7m, NYCNoom vs Nutrisystem weight loss system review: https://finvsfin.com/noom-vs-nutrisystem/

HungryRootHungryRoot delivers healthy meals ready to eat in <10 minutes.35.4m, NYCComing soon

OllieOllie is a leading fresh dog food subscription service.17m, NYCOllie vs Pet Plat vs NomNomNow: https://finvsfin.com/ollie-vs-petplate-vs-nomnomnow/

Pet PlatePet Plate offers a fresh dog food subscription to keep your furry friends healthy.4m, NYCOllie vs Pet Plat vs NomNomNow: https://finvsfin.com/ollie-vs-petplate-vs-nomnomnow/

RitualRitual sells personalized vitamin formulations for women.40.5m, Los AngelesGem vs Ritual women's vitamins review: https://finvsfin.com/gem-vitamins-vs-ritual/

ThriveThrive is a members-only market for sustainably-sourced organic goods.161.9m, Los AngelesOnline organic markets review: https://finvsfin.com/brandless-vs-thrive-vs-honest-company/

FreshlyFreshly prepares chef-cooked, healthy meals and delivers them to your door.107m, NYCComing soon

Misfits MarketMisfits Market reduces food waste by partnering with local farmers and selling their excess produce to consumers in a healthy subscription box.16.5m, PhiladelphiaMisfits Market vs Imperfect Produce vs Hungry Harvest: https://finvsfin.com/misfits-market-vs-imperfect-foods-vs-hungry-harvest/

Criteria

How did we come up with this list of D2C 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 D2C 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 D2C 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)

Define

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 “D2C 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 D2C 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.

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