New wine in new bottles: Welcome to Brand 2.0

The consumer brand space today is a heady cocktail of immediacy, innovation, and influence. Some call them DTC brands, and others, DNVBs, but the fact remains that they’re rewriting the traditional CPG playbook, page by page. This isn’t a case of old wine in new bottles, it’s a completely new sparkling beverage.

It isn’t just new brands that are disrupting the consumer landscape as we know it, it’s also new delivery channels, new touchpoints, new marketing channels, and new drivers and influencers. And each of these brings back data, data, and more data that could help sharpen marketing, and deliver greater satisfaction.

The confluences of these disruptions present a never-before opportunity for consumer brand startups, and we’re seeing a slew of well-crafted propositions reach carefully targeted consumers to create meaningful – and quite possibly, enduring – brand connects. We call this Brand 2.0

This new wave of brands reach consumers directly, minus the conduit of store or supermarket. Take Vahdam Teas, which leapfrogged not one, but two checkpoints of the packaged tea industry. Vahdam sources their teas directly from estates, and sells them internationally – all online. The reviews, the feedback, the paeans customers sing of quality and freshness – they’re also all online. Which brings us to another point – for these brands, reviews are the new ‘research.’ The Bonobos brand was built on the back of excellent customer service – ”a level of customer service other businesses didn’t offer,” to be precise.

Brand 2.0 players cleverly iterate their offerings, applying A/B testing principles to every variable of their product mix. They’re the first to offer additional value, whether in terms of guidance and advice, or a shiny new object to showcase on Instagram. Mamaearth gained the trust of young parents by connecting with them through bloggers and influencers. This helped them share information and advice that deepened and strengthened the role of the brand in their lives.

These new brands put the vast amounts of data they collect to good use, using it to customise, collaborate, and cross-sell. Everlane’s now-cult viral infographic about the true cost of producing a designer t-shirt earned them something like 20,000 notes on Tumblr, while selling out their very first product. They seek nothing less than loyalty from their customers, and tap all channels of influence within their reach. Brands like Warby Parker took a leaf from their audience’s digital sharing habits to encourage them to post photos of themselves on social media, wearing their trial frames. As these millennials reached out to their friends for style advice — and liked, shared and commented on the images — Warby Parker gained a loyal, highly engaged brand advocates. Closer home, boAt, the accessories brand, gained a lineup of no less than ten brand ambassadors, each of whom have helped it grow into a cult lifestyle brand, loved and used by a community of boAtheads.

Finally, Brand 2.0 scales quickly. These brands take advantage of the booming e-commerce landscape to cater to readymade markets on third-party platforms.

Some categories are ripe for disruption, as can be seen by international trends, and we’re watching verticals like beauty, pets, and nutraceuticals with great interest these days.

Besides, there’s great novelty in the product mix that we’re seeing. Some brands include elements of technology, like custom formulations, or computerised matching of sorts. Others take a science-based ‘high ground,’ with gene-based, or dosha-based recommendations. Still others make the most of trending flavours, like matcha, and kombucha.

With millennial and Gen-X consumers becoming more and more aware of issues like sustainability and ethical sourcing, these are becoming the starting point for new brands. But that’s probably a separate blog post in itself!