Disrupt, Delight, and Drive Action: How Direct-to-Consumer Brands are Leading the Way in Marketing

Credit: Pexels by Miguel Á.

It was once believed that direct-to-consumer brands focused too much on numbers and data and not enough on creativity and consumers. However, J. SCHMID‘s President & Partner Brent Niemuth, said that today that perception has been flipped on its head.

“When you look at direct-to-consumer brands now, they’re the cool kids, everyone wants to sit at the table with them because they’re the ones leading the way, they’re the ones who have figured out how to connect with consumers in a more impactful, more powerful, and more memorable way,” Niemuth said.

During the recent 30-minute BRAND United webinar “Direct-to-Consumer Landscape: How Challenger Brands Disrupt, Delight, and Drive Action,” Niemuth explained how direct-to-consumer brands like Warby Parker, Casper, and Hello Fresh are shaking up the status quo of marketing and being successful while doing it.

Niemuth broke it down into three categories: Disrupt, Delight, and Drive action.

Being Disruptive with Direct Mail 

Niemuth said it’s getting harder to stand out in this “jam-packed marketing world.” So, how do you cut through the clutter and shake things up to the point where your brand gets noticed? It’s simple — you’ve got to be different.

“When people hear this idea of having to disrupt to stand out, they assume they must yell louder and be crazier than the other guy, but no. You’ve got to be different from the other guy; if they’re comparing you to other brands they’re familiar with, being louder doesn’t matter, being different does,” Niemuth said.

Niemuth explained that direct mail is disruptive by nature and used two digitally native brands as examples of brands that have learned to embrace both marketing mediums.


Niemuth joked and said, if you said 10 years ago, we’d be buying mattresses through the mail, he would’ve looked at you sideways, but now thanks to Casper, that’s all changed. He utilized Casper to ask viewers: What is your unboxing experience like for your brand, and have you missed an opportunity for marketing? He pointed out that Casper’s signature blue striped packaging is like a mobile billboard for the brand, and now when people see that packaging, they’ll associate it with a great product. He also touched on the interactive “sleep kit” it sends to its customers and how the company has built a brand not just based on mattresses but on sleep.

Warby Parker 

“This is one of the first brands that started out digital and realized that if they open up retail stores, they might grow a little bit faster, but if we also reach out to our customers through direct mail and digital, we can make the experience better,” Niemuth said. He also touched on Warby Parker’s packaging and how it’s a critical part of their consumer experience. He touched on how their packaging has a simple and clean design with instructions that allow customers to interact with the brand.

Elevating to the Emotional through Delight

Niemuth said that 95% of buying decisions are based on emotion, not logic, so brands need to consider how they make people feel. In addition, Niemuth said that brands should make it simple and easy for their customers so that they feel at ease.

He used another two brands as examples of companies that ensure their customers will remember how their buying experience made them feel.


Niemuth admitted that he was even wearing a pair of Allbirds as he talked about them and how he has four pairs of the company’s sneakers. Keeping along with the theme, Niemuth touched on the brand’s simple yet elegant design for their packaging and labels that are effective and serve a purpose. He also pointed out the illustrative designs that they incorporate into their direct marketing campaigns that keep everything light and fresh— bringing joy and delight to their consumers.

Hello Fresh 

“This brand doesn’t just slap a logo on the side of their box; they utilize their logo to communicate in a delightful and joyful way,” Niemuth said. Niemuth emphasized that Hello Fresh uses their packaging to communicate in a way that’s fun and playful for their customers by using phrases like “can I get a kale, yeah?”

Drive with a Call to Action 

Niemuth said this might be the most critical component for direct marketers. “Research shows that if people take some sort of action, even if they go online and watch a 30-second video, chances increase that they’ll make a purchase,” Niemuth said.

He used two more brands to showcase calls to action.

Allen Edmonds 

As a client of J. SCHMID, Allen Edmonds got their catalog redesigned from just showing off shoes to instead telling a story with real people. Niemuth said they featured five people throughout the catalog, told their stories, and then pushed people online to go find out more.

Relax the Back 

Because this is a retail-driven brand where the product can be upwards of $9,000, Niemuth pointed out that it’s critical to get people into the store and not just buy online. So, just like Allen Edmonds, they pushed a narrative throughout their catalog about “living wellness” and urged people to come into the store. Then to top it all off, the spread at the end of the catalog gives not just one but six different calls to action.

To wrap up his talk, Niemuth Emphasized the three Ds.

  1. Disrupt: Do something different to get noticed.
  2. Delight: Once you have their attention, make it worth their time.
  3. Drive: Give the consumer a reason to act.

To view the full webinar, register to watch on BRAND United. To watch past webinars, or to register for one of our upcoming events, visit the webinar section on BRAND United.