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2019 ‘IAB 250’ Report Uncovers Most Important Disruptor Consumer Brands in U.S. Economy

IAB 250 2019

Comprehensive IAB Study Finds Leading Direct Brands Reshaping Sectors from Apparel to Personal Care

PHOENIX, AZ (February 10, 2019)IAB, the national trade association for the digital media and marketing industries, today released its second annual “IAB 250 Direct Brands to Watch” report identifying the direct-to-consumer brands that are driving positive change in the U.S. consumer economy. The companies—including both now-familiar brands, such as Glossier and Warby Parker, as well as newer upstarts such as Brandless and Oars & Alps—are the fast-growing consumer brands redefining the relationships between brands and customers.

“We are in the midst of a seismic change in business practices, enabled by the growth of digital media and driven by a new generation of digitally native entrepreneurs” said Randall Rothenberg, CEO, IAB. “Collectively, the IAB 250 are models of the best practices and trends that are overturning and revolutionizing consumer markets in the U.S. They are setting the competitive standards by which the world’s largest incumbent brands are beginning to base their strategies and investments.”

Disruptors brands are surfacing in all categories, from Stitch Fix and Allbirds in the apparel and fashion sector; Seesaw and The Honest Company in baby care and parenting; to Drizly and Winc in beer, wine, and alcohol. There are seven characteristics that remain similar no matter what category they compete in:

  • Direct brands are centered around individual consumer relationships and the data they provide
  • Direct brands are web-native
  • Direct brands are socially closer to the consumer
  • They are “maniacally focused” on consumer experience
  • Direct brands use content as a differentiator
  • They define content more broadly than incumbent brands and partners
  • Their mission is central to their story

Brands like Billie, in the personal care category, lead the way in social community building and storytelling.  They are creating unique and individual relationships through, storytelling, customization, and a relentless attention to customer experience, according to the IAB. By creating buzz-worthy experiences, we see that these companies are not confined to the web; they are a bright spot in the dim outlook for retail. Creating physical experiences are a natural extension of these community-driven brands and are propelling new store growth with over 850 physical locations projected to be opened in the next 5 years.

The diversity among the 250 businesses listed in IAB’s report is notable. Nearly a quarter of the direct brands to watch are helmed by women. This trend is in sharp contrast to the Fortune 500, which can claim just 5 percent female leadership. In addition, while New York and California are known as the hubs of digital disruption, nearly 100 of the brands came from a broad range of other locations. Texas is the home of 8 direct brands to watch, with another 6 from Washington state, 6 from Massachusetts, 5 from Illinois and 4 from Chicago. Other states represented include: Idaho, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming and Wisconsin.

“The impact of the growth of these companies is rippling through their respective supply chains, and is seen across the entire country,” said Sue Hogan, Senior Vice President, Research and Measurement, IAB. “If you look at our online interactive headquarter location map, it is represented by brands with headquarter locations from coast to coast, and everywhere in between.”

The report was released at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona to an audience of over 1,200 influential brand marketers, agencies, technology firms, and publishers.

The report features 10 distinct product categories. Apparel/fashion companies accounted for the vast majority of direct brands to watch, with 91 companies on the list.

New this year: the velocity of social media buzz and social footprint was factored, revealing that rapid increases in social attention are happening in virtually every category on the list. In addition, nearly one-third of the brands listed, with representation in each and every category within the “IAB 250,” are built on subscription models, demonstrating that a guaranteed, steady flow of revenue is possible across a range of sectors and products.

Below is the complete list of companies, ranked in each category:


  1. Foot of the Bed Cellars
  3. Splash Wines
  4. Drizly
  6. Flaviar
  7. Bright Cellars
  8. Winc


  1. Stitch Fix
  2. Outdoor Voices
  3. Huckberry
  4. Taft Clothing
  5. Dolls Kill
  6. ThirdLove
  7. Adore Me
  8. Untuckit
  9. Rent the Runway
  10. Paul Evans
  11. Stance
  12. Tommy John
  13. FabFitFun
  14. Everlane
  15. Knot Standard
  16. Primary
  17. Shinesty
  18. Gwynnie Bee
  19. The RealReal
  20. Wantable
  21. Foot Cardigan
  22. MeUndies
  23. Hickies
  24. TrackSmith
  25. Yellowberry
  26. Ledbury
  27. Poshmark
  28. Bucketfeet
  29. Bombfell
  30. American Giant
  31. Sole Society
  32. Kidbox
  33. Sock 101
  34. Tomboy Exchange
  35. Betabrand
  36. Bombas
  37. Plae
  38. Tecovas
  39. Cuyana
  40. Pistol Lake
  41. Ivory Clasp
  42. Buck Mason
  43. Tamara Mellon
  44. Schoola
  45. Nadine West
  46. Mack Weldon
  47. Cairn
  48. FabKids
  49. Trendy Butler
  50. Allbirds
  51. Draper James
  52. AUrate
  53. Dagne Dover
  54. Rothy’s
  55. AYR
  56. Jack Erwin
  57. Sweatbox
  58. Ellie
  59. Rockets of Awesome
  60. Original Stitch
  61. Cotopaxi
  62. Lively
  63. Koio Collective
  64. Neighborhood Goods
  65. Five Four Group
  66. Nisolo
  67. Richer Poorer
  68. Reformation
  69. Carbon38
  70. Bow & Drape
  71. Chubbies Shorts
  72. M. Gemi
  73. Monica and Andy
  74. Ratio Clothing
  75. Wear Pact
  76. Boon & Gable
  77. Dia&Co
  78. BauBax
  79. DSTLD
  80. Fame and Partners
  81. Harper Wilde
  82. Ministry of Supply
  83. Orchard Mile
  84. M.M Lafleur
  85. Mizzen Main
  86. ADAY
  87. Combatant Gentlemen
  88. Hush
  89. Thesis
  90. Thursday Boot Co
  91. True & Co
Baby Care/Parenting

  1. The Honest Company
  2. Bluum
  3. SeeSaw
  4. Owlet Babycare


  1. BeautyCounter
  2. Beautylish
  3. Glossier
  4. Scentbird
  5. Memebox
  6. Function of Beauty
  7. Madison Reed
  8. Pinrose
  9. Ipsy
  10. LOLI Beauty
  11. Facetory
  12. Curology
  13. Glam Squad
  14. Oars & Alps
  15. Boxycharm
  16. Stowaway
  17. CodeCombat
  18. littleBits
  19. Surprise Ride
  20. Educents
  21. VersaMe


  1. Freshly
  2. Plated
  3. Thrive Market
  4. Doggyloot
  5. NatureBox
  6. Munchery
  7. UrthBox
  8. Hungry Harvest
  9. Candy Club
  10. Blue Apron
  11. Sun Basket
  12. Doordash
  13. BarkBox
  14. Aloha
  15. Craft Coffee
  16. Daily Harvest
  17. Home Chef
  18. Soylent
  19. Cleancult
  20. blissmo
  21. Trubrain
  22. PrettyLitter
  23. Postmates
  24. LoveWithFood
  25. Fuego Box
  26. The Farmer’s Dog
  27. Bean Box
  28. Ripple Foods
  29. Califia Farms
  30. Sudden Coffee
  31. Revere
  32. Bulu Box
  33. Crowd Cow
  34. Gobble
  35. Yumi
  36. TryTheWorld
  37. Desert Farms
  38. Hungry Root
  39. Bulletproof
  40. Health-Ade Kombucha
  41. NomNomNow
  42. Ollie
  43. Wag
  44. Green Chef
  45. Kettlebell Ktchen
  46. PRE Brands
  47. Dirty Lemon
  48. Taste Guru
  49. Halo Top
  50. Boxtera


  1. Loot Crate
  2. KuIU
  3. Baublebar
  4. Robb Vices
  5. Tonal
  6. Lugloc
  7. Truefacet
  8. KiwiCo
  9. Rocksbox
  10. Osmo
  11. Alpha Outpost
  12. Fanchest
  13. Please And Carrots
  14. Nomatic
  15. Paravel
  16. Moment
  17. DateBox
  18. Airside Mobile
  19. Bouqs
  20. Vapor Liq
  21. Goldie Blox
  22. Away

  1. Grove Collaborative
  2. Brooklinen
  3. Snowe
  4. Ugallery
  5. Framebridge
  6. Brandless
  7. Boll & Branch
  8. ArtLifting
  9. Interior Define
  10. Burrow
  11. Helix Sleep
  12. Dormify
  13. Greetabl
  14. Casper
  15. Leesa
  16. Parachute
  17. Touch of Modern
  18. Joybird

Personal Care

  1. Dollar Shave Club
  2. Warby Parker
  3. Birchbox
  4. Harry’s Razors Company
  5. Eargo
  6. Teadora Beauty
  7. Hims
  8. Quip
  9. Thinx
  10. Hubble Contacts
  11. Simple Contacts
  12. Lola
  13. Billie
  14. Goby
  15. SmileDirectClub
  16. Candid
  17. Native Deodorant
  18. Kopari


  1. GoNoodle
  2. AliveCor
  3. Ritual
  4. Green Gorilla
  5. Elysium Health
  6. Zeel
  7. Buck Brush Company
  8. Uplift Ventures
  9. Care/Of
  10. Monthly Gift
  11. Capsule
  12. One Drop
  13. Vireo Health
  14. Keeps
  15. HVMN
  16. vitafive
  17. Peloton
  18. HelloFlo

“The IAB 250 report shows how deeply direct-to-consumer brands have pervaded the national market, with thriving companies to watch in 21 states and D.C.,” said Rothenberg. “This is a movement—not just in advertising and marketing, not just in terms of the disruption of traditional sales models, but in the opportunity for Americans to shift perspective for more effective, efficient and collaborative brand/consumer relationships. The 250 brands to watch has evolved from a list of identified logos to a brand tracker indicating momentous change, made possible by the walls broken down by digital media, metrics, and ecommerce.”

“This report illustrates the impressive diversity of the direct brand economy,” added Hogan. “With this, the influence of direct brands in the market is clearly evident. They are marketing in breakthrough ways. and driving traditional brands to rapid innovation. This roster of 250 disruptors, combined with the trends being revealed by Randall and our guest speakers at the conference, are a roadmap forward.”

The “IAB 250” is sponsored by the Direct Brand Initiative Strategic Partners, Google, Hulu, Pinterest, and Spotify.

To see the complete report, please visit

All IAB 250 Brands to Watch in 2019 are founded no earlier than 2010.  IAB provides a selection of direct brands across categories for Dun & Bradstreet to match against their SMB list, and using additional data collection from multiple sources, including Rival IQ for social footprint and velocity, IAB passes the data through an weighting formula for an overall Company Score:  Economic Efficiency (e.g., Revenue; # Employees); Financial Confidence (e.g., Revenue; Funding; Partners; Max Valuation); and social metrics. Data collected also includes company name, URL, and CEO name. Companies are aggregated into 10 categories for presentation purposes.

About IAB
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. Its membership is comprised of more than 650 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital advertising or marketing campaigns. The trade group fields critical research on interactive advertising, while also educating brands, agencies, and the wider business community on the importance of digital marketing. In affiliation with the IAB Tech Lab, it develops technical standards and best practices. IAB and the IAB Education Foundation are committed to professional development and elevating the knowledge, skills, expertise, and diversity of the workforce across the industry. Through the work of its public policy office in Washington, D.C., IAB advocates for its members and promotes the value of the interactive advertising industry to legislators and policymakers. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City and has a San Francisco office.

IAB Media Contact
Laura Goldberg
[email protected]