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Why D2C holding companies are here to stay

Alex Song


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Alex is CEO and co-Founder of Innovation Department, a tech-empowered platform building the benefit of future generations of shopper firebrands. Previously, he worked at Goldman Sachs and Pershing Square Capital Management.

It wasn’t that long ago that digitally-native, vertically-integrated firebrands( DNVBs) were the talk of the startup world.

Venture financiers and benefactors watched as Warby Parker, Casper, Glossier, Harry’s and Honest Company became the belles of the D2C ball, scooting their route towards unicorn valuations. Not long after, the “startup studio” was uncovered as the elusive unicorn breeding grounds( repute Hims ). Today, there’s yet another buzzword that’s all the rage and it goes by the name “D2C Holding Company.” And it’s not will cease to exist anytime soon.

What are DNVBs?

In 2017, DNVBs were a game-changer. Different than e-commerce, DNVBs sell products online instantly to consumers and maintain control and clarity through each stage of the production and distribution process, all without the participation of middlemen. This allows DNVBs to determine where and how their commodities are sold and to collect customer data that helps optimize their market policies.

DNVBs have exploded over the last decade, stretching sales and venture capital funding at a rapid speed. These brands use digital action strategies to create stronger relationships with purchasers, which — when implemented alongside captivating material — contribute heavily to brand success by the rise in customer LTV and the establishment of compounding measurement economics.

The difficulty with DNVBs

In the last three years alone, more DNVBs have propelled than in the entirety of the previous decade.

While this growth is encouraging, the problem is that these DNVBs are conjuring so much venture capital that in order to meet the return requirements of their investors, they need a significant purchase offer or IPO valuation. With more than 85 percent of acquisitions happening below $250 million in obtain rate, strategic buys offers that fill investor expectancies are few and far between.

This ultimately organizes a commonwealth of startup hell where DNVBs have no choice but to take a downround to find a lifeline — sorry, Honest Company — making it difficult to develop punished functional dress and achieve sustainable growth. With these challenges are becoming ever more glaringly evident in recent years, there came a need for a new approach to D2C at large. Enter the modern D2C holding company.

Make road for the D2C holding company model

Today’s version of the holding company model takes what business like Procter& Gamble and Unilever did in the 1950 s and renovates it for the existing D2C busines. Instead of taking a siloed coming, brands pool resources, operational costs and institutional acquaintance to accelerate growth and achieve profitability at a faster charge.

DNVB favorites Harry’s and Glossier are great examples of this. Harry’s diversification endeavours ought to have centerstage as the company works to grow beyond men’s grooming to include personal care for men and women, household parts and babe products. In May, Edgewell Personal Care, which owns symbols like Schick, Banana Boat, and Wet Ones, acquired Harry’s for $1.37 billion. Glossier is also working to diversify its portfolio, with the launching of Glossier Play, a younger, more colorful sister symbol to its original.

For DNVBs to successfully pivot to a holding company model, they will need to prioritize 1) diversification to satisfy customers’ short attention spans, 2) a data-first mindset to deliver the best possible customer experience, and 3) functional and fund efficiency to not only stay afloat, but thrive.

An advancing countryside

The landscape for D2C propping corporations is just starting to take shape, but here are some of the key players who have adopted this approach and are finding early success:

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