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IAB “250 Brands to Watch” Identifies the Most Disruptive U.S. Direct-to-Consumer Brands and Services

NEW YORK, NY and PALM DESERT, CA – February 10, 2020 – Now in its third year, IAB has unveiled the most disruptive, influential DTC brands. More than 3,500 brands were analyzed before IAB narrowed the list to the most important 250 direct-to-consumer products. This year, for the first time ever, 100 service companies were added.

“These brands epitomize the growing disruptor brand economy, representing the leading edge of business development across the U.S. and globally,” says IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg. “We watch these brands because their business model, personalized relationships with consumers and go-to-market strategies are transforming how brands are born, how they are advertised, and what consumers expect. Traditional brands aspire to their nimbleness and engagement. If they want to understand the future of the consumer economy, there is no better model to follow than the IAB 250.”

New “to watch” in 2020 includes consumer brands such as Andie, BodyArmor and Wander Beauty, and services like ClassPass, Le Tote and Lyft.

“Consumers and distribution channels have changed. Brands go to market faster, with marketing that’s focused on stimulating conversation and ensuring powerful one-to-one customer experiences. At the core of everything is a continuous stream of first-party data. Brands that don’t adapt, will not survive,” explains Sue Hogan, SVP Research and Analytics, IAB.

Top Insights From the Top Brands and Services

VC Funding is Still Emerging

Despite all the talk of VC funding and news articles about VCs looking for ROI, IAB research data tells a different story.

A scant 11 percent of IAB 250 DTC brands are VC backed. There aren’t a lot of DTC brands on Sand Hill Road. Just 11 of the 87 companies on the list in California are VC backed. And 10 of the 62 in NYC are backed.

The implication? There are still plenty of funding opportunities out there. However, VC funding is not mandatory.

Social Footprint and Media Diversification Correlates to Sales

For DTC brands, their social footprint is critical to driving business. If no brand is dominating the social conversation in a given category, there is significant room for a major DTC brand to take hold and thrive. There’s no question that digital spend and social footprint are correlated. But scaling social alone will not get a DTC to the next level of growth.

IAB research has identified many opportunities for media diversification, including exciting new advertising units.

In Q4 2019 Pinterest launched “Shop the Look mobile ads” enabling retailers to feature up to 25 products in a single ad on mobile devices and direct users to their own retail site. Other features for better UX and engagement are continually being created to ensure growth and relevancy in this growing Image Search space.

TikTok is beta testing shoppable short‐form videos which will allow viewers to click on the in‐app video and be taken directly to the creator’s store without leaving TikTok.

Small wonder that the referral share of traffic that social provides e‐commerce sites grew 20% from 7.6% to 9.1%; this is the largest growth seen since 2016.

Subscription and Customization

It’s impossible to overstate the role and impact data has on the way IAB DTC 250 brands do business. Data impacts not just how these brands sell, but what they sell. DTC is where the promise of mass customization gets real. For example, pet care brands combine specific educational information about a consumer’s pet with customized products created for the pet’s precise growth stage. Everything about the experience is customized—a consumer simply creates a profile and a care package arrives within 7 days.

A core part of the promise of DTC brands is that they can and will know consumers better, serve them better, and adapt to their needs better than any large-scale brand sold through mass retail.

The Rise of the Mega DTCs

In the early days, you could be excused for dismissing DTC brands as minor niche players driving tiny amounts of revenue. No more.

No less than seven disruptor IAB 250 brands have revenues of over $100M.

  • Apparel/Fashion: Stitch Fix
  • Food and Beverage: Home Chef
  • Health/Wellness: Peloton
  • Hobbies/Lifestyle: Loot Crate
  • Home and Appliance: Casper
  • Personal Care: The Honest Company
  • Pet Care: Chewy

IAB research has also revealed that the verticals yielding the highest revenue in the shortest period of time are in categories like personal care, health/wellness, baby care/parenting, and pet care.

More than Half of DTC Founders are Women
Among the many changes wrought by the rise of DTC: it appears to be democratizing entrepreneurship. More than half (53 percent) of DTC brands have female founders. The first wave of DTC brands with female founders included female apparel brands like ThirdLove and cosmetics brands like Glossier. In 2020, female DTC founders aren’t just competing in “women’s” categories, they are battling for share in nearly every category imaginable.

250 Direct Brand
Products to Watch 2020
*By Category; Sorted Alphabetically by Revenue Tier

Alcohol/Beer/Wine

  1. Flaviar
  2. Glass Vodka
  3. Hopsy
  4. MobCraft Beer
  5. Rebel Coast Winery
  6. Strike Brewing Co.
  7. VineBox

Apparel/Fashion

  1. Stitch Fix
  2. Adore Me
  3. Untuckit
  4. Allbirds
  5. Allume
  6. Anatomie
  7. Away
  8. BaubleBar
  9. Draper James
  10. Eloquii
  11. FabFitFun
  12. Flint and Tinder
  13. Grailed
  14. Moxie Jean
  15. MVMT
  16. Outdoor Voices
  17. Stadium Goods
  18. 1Atelier
  19. Acustom Apparel
  20. American Giant
  21. Andie
  22. Armarium
  23. Atoms
  24. BABOON
  25. Birddogs Shorts
  26. BOW & Drape
  27. Briogeo Hair Care
  28. Closet Candy Boutique
  29. Cubcoats
  30. CUUP
  31. Ellie
  32. Enflux
  33. Enso Rings
  34. For Days
  35. For Love of lemons
  36. Glyph
  37. Good American Denim
  38. Hari Mari
  39. Harper Wilde
  40. HATCH Collection
  41. Haute Hijab
  42. Honeybum
  43. Hylete
  44. Illuminative
  45. InstaNatural
  46. Islide
  47. Ivory Ella
  48. Kiki La’Rue
  49. Koio Collective
  50. Lems Shoes
  51. Lizzy James Inc
  52. Local Eclectic
  53. Mented Cosmetics
  54. MeUndies
  55. Neighborhood Goods
  56. Nomad
  57. Nomatic
  58. Parks Project
  59. Phat Buddha Wear
  60. Pop & Suki
  61. ROOLEE
  62. Rowing Blazers
  63. Sarah Flint
  64. Schoola
  65. Shinesty
  66. Summersalt
  67. Super Heroic
  68. ThirdLove
  69. TrackSmith
  70. Trendy Butler
  71. Tuckernuck
  72. United by Blue
  73. Universal Standard
  74. Vie Active
  75. com
  76. Western Rise
  77. Westward Leaning
  78. WONE
  79. Ash & Erie
  80. Dagne Dover
  81. Markhor
  82. Original Stitch
  83. Spruce
  84. Swet Tailor
  85. Tipsy Elves

Baby Care/Parenting

  1. Osmo
  2. Bitsbox
  3. codeSpark
  4. Coterie
  5. Please And Carrots
  6. smilo
  7. Willow
  8. Tactical Baby Gear

Consumer Electronics

  1. Awair
  2. LuminAID
  3. Nonda
  4. Wynd Technologies
  5. Embr Labs

Food and Beverage

  1. Home Chef
  2. Thrive Market
  3. ALOHA
  4. Daily Harvest
  5. High Brew Coffee
  6. Kill Cliff
  7. Misfits MARKET
  8. New Age Beverages
  9. Suja Life
  10. Trifecta Nutrition
  11. Apres
  12. Aspire Food Group
  13. Banza
  14. BodyArmor
  15. Bonafide Provisions
  16. Bright Greens
  17. Coco5
  18. Crowd Cow
  19. Crunchsters
  20. Death Wish Coffee
  21. Drink Simple
  22. Elev8 Hemp
  23. Fuego Box
  24. Fuel For Fire
  25. Generosity Beverages
  26. Grow & Behold Foods
  27. JUST Goods
  28. KiiTO
  29. Koia
  30. Laird Superfood
  31. Lakanto
  32. LifeFuels
  33. MatchaBar
  34. Oakridge Dairy
  35. OLIPOP
  36. Once Upon a Farm
  37. Outlaw Beverage
  38. Prepd
  39. Protein2O
  40. Raised Real
  41. Revere
  42. Soozy’s
  43. Spero Foods
  44. Tea Drops
  45. TryTheWorld
  46. Weller
  47. Yumi
  48. Zest Tea
  49. Veestro
  50. Your Super

Health/Wellness

  1. Peloton
  2. Campus Protein
  3. Care/Of
  4. Ample Foods
  5. BINTO
  6. DYLN Inspired
  7. Gennev
  8. HelloMD
  9. Kaleidoscope Labs
  10. Liquid I.V.
  11. Lume Deodorant
  12. Maude
  13. Poplar
  14. Prima
  15. 253 Organic

Hobbies/Lifestyle

  1. Loot Crate
  2. Cratejoy
  3. Eaze
  4. KiwiCo
  5. Alpha Outpost
  6. Bespoke Post
  7. Elevate Accessories
  8. FringeSport
  9. Greetabl
  10. Groove Life
  11. Healthy Bees
  12. Litographs
  13. Moment
  14. Myro
  15. OpenSea
  16. Printabowl
  17. Priority Bicycles
  18. The Sill
  19. Tower Paddle Boards
  20. Fanchest

Home and Appliance

  1. Casper
  2. Touch of Modern
  3. Chairish
  4. Parachute Home
  5. Artlifting
  6. Backdrop
  7. Barn & Willow
  8. Blackdove
  9. Buffy
  10. Clare
  11. Cleancult
  12. Dering Hall
  13. Dormify
  14. GlobeIn
  15. Great Jones
  16. iDro
  17. Kaiyo
  18. Mirror
  19. Outer
  20. Stikwood
  21. Suitely
  22. Thuma
  23. Year & Day
  24. Ruggable
  25. Tushy

Personal Care

  1. The Honest Company
  2. BeautyCounter
  3. Curology
  4. Eargo
  5. Follain
  6. Glossier
  7. Hims
  8. Athena Club
  9. Boxycharm
  10. By Humankind
  11. Cora
  12. Felix Gray
  13. Function of Beauty
  14. GLOW
  15. Kosas Cosmetics
  16. L.
  17. Modern Fertility
  18. NaturAll Club
  19. Public Goods
  20. Rael
  21. Thrive Causemetics Inc.
  22. Wander Beauty
  23. Winky Lux
  24. Youth To The People
  25. Act+Acre
  26. BioClarity
  27. Facetory
  28. Joylux
  29. LOLI Beauty
  30. Ogee

Pet Care

  1. Chewy
  2. Boxed
  3. Ollie
  4. PetPlate
  5. PupBox
100 Direct Brand
Services to Watch 2020
*By Category; Sorted Alphabetically by Revenue Tier

Apparel/Fashion

  1. Anomalie
  2. Knot Standard
  3. Le Tote
  4. Poshmark
  5. Wildfang

Baby Care/Parenting

  1. Greenlight Financial Technology
  2. Tinkergarten
  3. Wonderschool
  4. Bark Technologies

Education

  1. Codecademy
  2. Coursera
  3. Duolingo
  4. StudySoup
  5. AdmitSee
  6. Classkick
  7. CodeMonkey Studios
  8. ELSA
  9. Explain Everything
  10. Motion Math
  11. Pear Deck
  12. PicMonic
  13. Preply
  14. PsychArmor
  15. SoloLearn
  16. Study Edge
  17. Studypool
  18. Testive

Finance

  1. PeerStreet
  2. Stash
  3. Brigit
  4. Rare Bits
  5. Trim

Food and Beverage

  1. Caviar
  2. Instacart
  3. Postmates
  4. Doordash
  5. Favor
  6. Waitr
  7. Chowbus
  8. EatStreet
  9. Gobble
  10. Butler Hospitality
  11. Good Uncle
  12. Goodybag
  13. Local Crate
  14. PlateJoy

Health/Wellness

  1. Soothe
  2. Aaptiv
  3. Blink Health
  4. Calm
  5. ClassPass
  6. Infinite Recovery
  7. Zeel
  8. Aura
  9. Grokker
  10. Happify
  11. Learn to Live
  12. Nutrimedy
  13. Obe
  14. Shine
  15. Ten Percent Happier
  16. Whoop
  17. iCouch
  18. LARKR
  19. nOCD
  20. Prescribe FIT

Hobbies/Lifestyle

  1. Cambly
  2. Glamping Hub
  3. Jubel
  4. OpenBazaar
  5. Twigtale
  6. Vimbly
  7. YogaTrail
  8. MeetMindful
  9. Siren Marine

Home and Appliance

  1. Grove Collaborative
  2. Havenly

Personal Care

  1. Core Wellness, Inc
  2. Mayvenn

Pet Care

  1. Wag

Travel

  1. Lyft
  2. Domicile
  3. Domio
  4. Eightydays
  5. KEY Concierge
  6. Remote Year
  7. Sonder
  8. Turo
  9. AllTheRooms
  10. AtYourGate
  11. Chimani
  12. Journy
  13. Kimkim
  14. Mozio
  15. Outsite
  16. Recharge
  17. Suiteness
  18. ViaHero
  19. Tesloop
  20. VacationRenter

“Brands that rely on old supply chains, have a smaller social footprint, and are costly and perhaps already losing retail market share, have the most to lose – or the most to gain, depending on how you react to the changes,” says Sue Hogan, SVP Research and Analytics IAB. “Someone will take your category to the next level. It can be you, or a DTC founder. It all depends on how early or late you choose to react.”

Methodology
IAB 250 Brands to Watch in 2020 are founded after 2010 in the U.S. After scraping the web to create a database of DTCs, additional data is aggregated using multiple sources, including Rival IQ for social footprint and velocity. IAB uses a weighted formula to create indices to rank Economic Efficiency (e.g., Revenue; # Employees); Financial Confidence (e.g., Revenue; Funding; Partners; Max Valuation); and social metrics. Companies are ranked by 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 companies, brands, and the technology firms responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital ad 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, IAB develops technical standards and solutions. IAB is 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., the trade association advocates for its members and promotes the value of the interactive advertising industry to legislators and policymakers. Founded in 1996, IAB is headquartered in New York City.

IAB Media Contacts
Danielle DeVoren / Britany Tibaldi
212-896-1272 / 347-487-6794
[email protected] / [email protected]

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