The emergence of Digitally Native Vertical Brands (DNVBs)
The first Digitally Native Vertical Brands (DNVBs) appeared in 2007-2008, when the second generation of e-commerce sites emerged. From 2008 to 2012, social media began to take hold and brands began to appeal to consumers by creating “digital tribes” based on their products. This was a true revolution on the fashion and cosmetics markets, which had begun to struggle.
The very first DNVB, Bonobos, was founded by Andy Dunn in the United States in 2007. It is a men’s apparel brand that offers a much greater variety of sizes and cuts than its traditional competitors. The power of DNVBs is therefore in their capacity to quickly develop a “customer-centric” brand while using technology (it all happens online) to form a vertical chain of value: direct sales to clients with no middle-man who could compromise the brand image.
DNVB, Indie brands, influencer brands… How can you tell them apart?
A DNVB is a digital start-up that generates growth through its capacity to recuperate data and place the client at the center of its decision-making process. It conducts sales principally online. An Indie brand is also digitally based, through social networks, but it does not use the development tools of an Internet start-up, and particularly data technology. Its growth is generated by physical sales. As for production modes, DNVBs often employ their own tools and develop their own patents, which is rarer for Indie brands whose financial means are more limited. The Indie strategy is more focused on packaging and the use of influencers and paid marketing to gain recognition, while DNVBs develop through natural referencing by massively developing high-quality content and relying on user-generated content (UGC).
As for influencer brands, these are also known as “Instabrands”. An industrial develops a brand and calls on an influencer – or vice-versa – who relies on his or her community of Instagram followers to generate sales quickly and massively. The whole marketing campaign is designed for digital media, since the great majority of purchases are made online. The example of reference: Kylie Cosmetics, created by Kylie Jenner, an influencer with 180 million followers and as many potential clients. DNVB, Indie brands and Instabrands all rely on social networks and word-of-mouth to develop quickly.
Portrait of an Indie brand: Alexis Robillard’s ALL TIGERS
Throughout her life, a woman swallows an average of two kilos of lipstick. Based on this observation, Alexis Robillard decided to found a natural, vegan lipstick brand, ALL TIGERS, in 2017. The project was co-constructed with the products’ future users. The community – today 15,000 people strong – approves each of the brand’s decisions, from lipstick shades to formulas to packaging. ALL TIGERS addresses a true consumer need for trendy, high-quality makeup that is not harmful for health.
The ALL TIGERS brand, which has been active for a year and a half, is already present in 300 points of sale in ten countries, and its sales are continually rising. It has made a place for itself by asserting strong values such as transparency, respect for the environment, and feminism. From formulation to packaging, everything is conceived in an eco-friendly way, and 1% of turnover goes to an association protecting tigers in the wild. This is also what could be called a “mission brand”, a positive brand that brings a true change to the market.
Have traditional brands become has-beens?
Consumers overall reproach traditional brands (particularly luxury brands) for their lack of inclusiveness and absence of transparency on product composition. What works to their disadvantage is that they really don’t know their clients because of the way their distribution system is organized. Meanwhile, DNVBs such as Nidé.co shape their offers to correspond with consumer demands, even entrusting one of them with the creation of her own product in cooperation with the brand (which entitles her to collect 10% on sales).
By playing on transparency, these dynamic little brands are challenging the codes of the cosmetics industry, positioning themselves as true “game changers.” At a time when consumers are seeking brands aligned with their values above all else, they expect a brand to assume a position and practically embody the role of a political leader. For example, the DNVB Glossier made a million-dollar donation to the Black Lives Matter cause. Changing the world before selling products: a new order, and one that is unsettling for traditional brands.