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The '8th P' of Marketing Is Key for D2C Success

By Nick Pietropinto

8Ps of marketing

Many marketers know about the “4 Ps” of marketing, but here’s a quick refresher for those who are unfamiliar. In 1960, professor E. Jerome McCarthy identified the “4 Ps” — product, price, placement, and promotion — in his book, “Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach.” In 1981, professors Bernard Booms and Mary Jo Bitner expanded the list to “7 Ps,” adding people, process, and physical evidence to the formula.

These “7 Ps” of marketing are still relevant today, particularly when it comes to scaling direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands. To bring that relevance home, let’s see how the “7 Ps” have had a direct impact on some of the most successful D2C brands out there.


Product — What Makes You Different?

A successful D2C brand starts with a great product — one that clearly meets your target consumers’ needs, solves a problem, and/or defines a new category. Take Oura, for example. A wearable ring that tracks health metrics, Oura clearly differentiates itself from other fitness trackers with its lightweight portability (it’s less than 0.1 ounces) and sleek aesthetics that appeal to Millennials. The product strategy worked: just two years after launching, Oura sold more than 1 million rings and raised $2.55 billion in capital.


Price — What Is Your Value?

Equally important is identifying the right price point for your D2C product — one that your target audience is willing to pay based on perceived value. Some D2C brands elevate their pricing to give the perception of luxury and exclusivity. Others undercut their competitors’ prices to drive sales. Discounts also factor into pricing.

For a great example of a successful D2C pricing strategy, look to Dollar Shave Club. A subscription-based razor brand, Dollar Shave Club offers consumers an affordable alternative to overpriced razor blades and shaving equipment found in retail outlets. Within a few years, Dollar Shave Club climbed to the top of the industry and was sold to Unilever for nearly $1 billion.


Place — Where Can You Be Found?

For today’s D2C brands, place refers to the placement of the product in brick-and-mortar retail environments, as well as online. The goal is to get your D2C products in front of your target consumers, positioned in a way that is mostly likely to get them to buy what you’re selling.

Given that 85 percent of U.S. retail sales still happen in physical stores, choosing the right retail location and shelf placement is still relevant for D2C products. According to a Prosper Analytics & Insights report, 46 percent of consumers shop for goods in a physical store, compared to 36 percent of consumers who shop for the same goods online. Perhaps that is why D2C power brand Warby Parker has opened more than 200 (and counting) brick-and-mortar stores in addition to their online store. The rapidly expanding D2C telehealth platform Hims & Hers also has been veering into physical retail, offering its products and services through retail outlets like The Vitamin Shoppe.


Promotion — How Are You Driving Demand?

Promotion includes strategies for increasing demand for your D2C product, primarily through media channels and marketing. In today’s D2C world, promotion and placement often go hand-in-hand; where your product appears on a shelf, social media, or webpage has a huge impact on enticing consumers to purchase it.

Which is why providing a good user experience (UX) is critical for D2C brands that sell their products online. According to an extensive survey of U.S. and European online retailers, 44 percent of e-commerce sites have mediocre or worse product page implementations. What’s more, Google tells us that 53 percent of U.S. online consumers abandon their carts and go elsewhere if they can’t find what they’re looking for on a site. That search abandonment costs U.S. retailers more than $234 billion annually.


People — Who’s Buying Your Product?

People, in the form of spokespersons and/or customer testimonials, play a central role in the success of many D2C brands. No wonder, considering that almost nine out of 10 consumers read online reviews before buying a product, and 62 percent of people say that product photos shared by customers have a big influence on their purchasing decisions.

Consumers trust D2C brands that other customers trust and use. Case in point: Fabletics, which built its marketing strategy on influencers and customers who share social media posts, reviews, blogs, and photos of themselves wearing the brand’s fitness clothing. This focus on people-based marketing propelled Fabletics to $250 million in business in just three years, with 25-percent year-over-year revenue growth.


Process — How Are You Delivering?

Process refers to the logistics of how your D2C product gets into the hands of your customers. Today’s demanding consumers expect their products to be delivered with speed and efficiency — and with free shipping. A McKinsey report finds that nearly half of online shoppers abandon their carts if shipping times are too long or aren’t provided. With 62 percent of shoppers expecting their orders to arrive in less than three days when choosing free shipping, 96 percent of retailers now offer zero-cost deliveries and nearly 99 percent plan to offer same-day delivery by 2025.


Physical Evidence — How Are You Building Trust?

Consumers want to know that the D2C brand they’re purchasing from is legitimate, reliable, and trustworthy. In recent studies, 53 percent of consumers said that brand trust is the second-most important factor when purchasing a new brand — falling only behind price.

Many consumers judge D2C brands by the quality of their websites and online customer experience. A survey of 6,000 online shoppers in the U.S. and Europe shows that consumers abandon an average of five purchases per year because of a poor website experience. What’s more, 42 percent of them decide whether to stay on or leave a website within 10 seconds of landing there — 20 percent within just five seconds.


The 8th P of Marketing — Promotional Mix

While the “7 Ps” of marketing certainly cover significant ground for D2C marketers, I propose adding an eighth “P” of marketing: Promotional Mix. After all, how can you have a successful marketing plan without the right mix of elements and the right proportion of each? An effective promotional mix means identifying the right mix of media channels for that specific brand and the right mix of media within each channel. It also requires taking an omnichannel approach to ensure that your media mix reaches and connects with your target audience wherever they are.

Research shows us that the average buyer needs seven hours of interaction with a brand across 11 touchpoints in four different locations before they decide to purchase. So, if you’re focusing your promotional efforts on one or two social media platforms, for example, you’re missing those vital opportunities to engage with your audience and drive conversions.

A strategic omnichannel approach built on data will create that powerful media mix — combining social, digital, and traditional — that reaches the right person on the right platform with the right message at the right time. It works. Companies that provide a good omnichannel customer experience see a 91-percent higher year-over-year increase in customer retention rate than organizations without an omnichannel strategy. A study of 135,000-plus campaigns showed that marketers who use three or more channels in a campaign achieved a 494-percent higher order rate that those using a single-channel campaign approach. All the more reason to adopt that “8th P” in your D2C marketing plan.

If you’d like to start leveraging the “8 Ps” of marketing to propel your growth, my team at Double Diamond VIP is ready scale your D2C brand — are you? Learn more at


Nick Pietropinto is the founder and CEO of Double Diamond VIP. He can be reached via email at













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