This past May, Custora announced a new benchmarking feature within our program. Dagne Dover found themselves at the top of 100+ retail marketers with their high-performance lifecycle marketing program.
Through our extensive work with retailers, we have privileged access to some of the retail world’s top brands, and with this access, we’ve been able to develop a holistic view of how retailers in various industries are performing across key metrics.
In gathering all of the retail industry data, we were able to get a birds-eye-view of the market across three business categories comprising ten key metrics. And it was immediately obvious that some organizations were far ahead of the pack in certain areas.
One such market leader is the hot new DTC handbag brand, Dagne Dover. One would expect a new direct-to-consumer brand to come in hard and fast on acquisition efforts — and that’s certainly true of Dagne Dover — but the data tells the story of a growing brand with staying power, one that beat out some of today’s biggest legacy brands in terms of Customer Retention and Customer Reactivation.
Custora CEO and Cofounder Corey Pierson sat down with Dagne Dover’s VP of Consumer Growth and Insight Vadim Grinberg to learn more about how this David of a brand is beating industry Goliaths left and right.
To hear their conversation in full, you can listen to the audio here:
Below are our favorite nuggets of strategic wisdom and tactical knowledge from Vadim (edited for brevity and clarity).
Below is the second edition of our favorite nuggets of strategic wisdom and tactical knowledge from Vadim (edited for brevity and clarity). For Part one, click here.
How a Bootstrapped DTC Competes with the Big Boys
VADIM GRINBERG: We didn't go out and raise a ton of money at first. We really tried to bootstrap the customer acquisition as much as possible, so that relied heavily on ROI. That's why it's inherently a part of what we do.
We don't ignore the legacy brands. We have reverence for lots of brands out there who are doing really cool stuff. We always are cognizant of what other brands are doing because it's how the market expects things.
The example I always give, which is the really broad one, is: Amazon created a much shorter shipping timeline for returns and shipping.
DTC brands were able to jump on that. The advantage wasn't really there. It was Amazon's and DTC brands copied it, right?
We make sure that we just understand what customers expect, right? That's the customer focus part of it. When it comes to competing with legacy brands — at a certain point you really can't rely on making sure that you're competing with or outpacing [others].
You’ve got to keep doing what you're doing well and making sure that you have not just good process to follow through with these measures of customer-centricity, but also good partners. We partner with Nordstrom, we partner with Equinox and Bandier. There are brands out there that we work with that are top of class that we always want to make sure that we're learning from and sharing with. Then also being bolstered by, right?
We're not trying to supplant something. What we're really trying to do is be the best version of ourselves because ultimately, again, going back to having a good product, if we just keep doing what we're doing and being honest and true to the customer, their expectations of us, we should have no problem. There's lots of other stuff we have to worry about. We can trust our team and just keep creating cool stuff. That's what we're doing, and we have amazing things up ahead.
Was this Benchmark Award a Surprise or Totally Expected?
I have two answers. One is the Dagne Dover team answer, which is, it makes sense. We truly have in the past — particularly in the past three years — have very strongly focused on that. Like I mentioned earlier, we backed into it, but we've been front-loading it ever since.
Once we realized that, "Oh, [Customer Lifetime Value] is a really good packaged measure of understanding how we're doing." It makes sense that we're up there, right? Because we really work extremely hard.
From my point of view, I wouldn't really be doing my specific job if I wasn't challenging myself constantly. I was a little surprised just because I'm always trying to do better. One of the reasons we wanted to work with Custora was we trusted the expertise in retail and the brands that you work with, so knowing the crop of brands that we were chosen out of is an extra boost of confidence. It’s really cool to know that it's not 12 brands or something that we respect, but it’s all of the brands, right? That was for me personally, really nice.
Every Brand Has a Different Customer Lifecycle
We absolutely always talk internally about the repeat [purchase]. How many people are new customers versus repeat customers? What's the timeline between their first purchase and their next purchase? Pretty early on, we realized that at our AUR (average unit retail), we couldn't expect [that timeline] to be really short. We're not a replenishable.
We weren't focused on that. We weren't saying, "Okay, the next step is to get them to buy again." Because again, going back to the product being good, we knew that if we got more similar customers, that we would keep growing that base as we evolve the product line.
We knew that inherently if customers trusted us from the products that they had — which again goes back to making sure we're telling the right thing to the right person, finding the right person to buy the right product and having a good experience with it — that when we come up with new products, we knew they'd buy again.
Balancing Vision with Service
I want to take a step back to say that a lot of the success that we have, it isn't just us understanding what the customer wants, but it's also having a really strong vision about what we want to do in the future.
Our design team and our product development team are very critical about what they're building. They take the right amount of time with the products to know if they're actually developing what they thought they would. There are things that don't see the light of day, but that requires a lot of work, a lot of foresight, but also a lot of sticking to your guns.
That goes back to the trust that the founders have with each other, which then propagates throughout the business where we all trust each other to make decisions.
We try really, really hard not to say, "We need this kind of bag” or “We need to do this or more of this.”
That trust in what we're doing is strong enough to help us have the confidence to keep going.
Ultimately, we're a fashion retail brand, which means that we're always designing two-plus seasons out . We have a pipeline for multiple years in the future, as any company does. That's our most important thing to look at.
Weighing Product Performance with Segmentation
We've made some segments in the past year and a half that we've been refining with our ad partner to help target and learn and test against. I want to say it informs our photoshoots a lot. It informs our color decisions sometimes too, to make sure we have certain bright colors and darks and certain color stories. I won't speak for the product team because I'm not part of it, but we absolutely are mindful of what we're showing and what we assume it will do.
We always want to make a statement like, "This is going to do this," and then we'll see if it did.
There's never, “Oh, I don’t know. Let's just push everything and then pick the one that worked the best." Sometimes smaller products that don't sell a ton help drive a lot of click-through or impressions among audiences that you never were a part of before. That's crucially important to us because those could be really high-value customers in the future, and there's no way to know unless you try.
There’s so much more from this wide-ranging conversation than we couldn’t include in the article, but that just means you have more to look forward to as you click over to your preferred podcast provider and subscribe to Custora Time, which is available at all major podcast streaming services: iTunes / Spotify / Google Podcasts / Stitcher.
Or you can press play right now and listen to the full audio here: