5 Reasons Women Are Predisposed to Succeed in the “Direct-to-Consumer” World
Written by: Esther Kestenbaum Prozan | President and COO of Ruby Has Fulfillment
It’s no secret that retail is trending toward a direct-to-consumer model where brands entirely or partly bypass Amazon or traditional retail to reach consumers directly through web and mobile assets. There are many reasons for this, including the demise of many major retailers and the limitations, costs, and challenges of working with Amazon. All of these obstacles have led entrepreneurs to choose to play the role of both brand and retailer at once.
In my role as President at Ruby Has, a leading ecommerce fulfillment provider, I have a front row seat for observing our hundreds of direct-to-consumer brand customers operate, but one thing that has delighted me is seeing how many of our fast-growing, prominent brands are female founded and/or led. I know, I know, it shouldn’t be a surprise, or in any way unusual in 2019, but let’s be honest – we still have a long way to go in gender equality and inclusiveness so yes, in 2019 – it is both a delight and also a surprise. In reflection, I believe there are five reasons women are predisposed to succeed in the “Direct-to-Consumer” world.
1.) “She” has always been “The Consumer”
Those of us who have been around retail and product for decades know that when retailers and brands talk about the customer, with few exceptions, the pronoun used is almost always “she”. In an industry that measures not only personal but also household share of wallet, “she” has been the chief procurement officer for as long as any of us in this field can remember. That reality still holds true to a great degree and I believe having been the primary consumer has led to a legacy of sensitivity to features, form, design and functionality that substantively informs the quality of the products being produced by female-led brands.
2.) Women have long been “The Makers”
Another heritage that has pulled a DNA thread of intuitive talent from the past to the present is the history of women being makers of the artifacts of daily living. Long before the concept of being a “homemaker” was coined, women have seen through the sourcing of raw materials and their transformation into usable objects. Food, clothing, household objects, and so on–the ability to see something in a raw state and imagine a finished outcome is a skill that many women have observed and absorbed from parents, grandparents, and other ancestors. Seeing the potential of something, acquiring the right products to support that vision, and being able to execute the task, project, etc. in a timely manner to achieve it, is a form of owning one’s entire value chain from beginning to end. That is just what direct-to-consumer brands do.
3.) There’s a reason why it’s been said “Necessity is the ‘Mother’ of invention”
Some of the best companies and products we have the privilege to do business with solve real problems, oftentimes in markets that have been entirely uncatered to. Even as women have entered the workforce in near or equal numbers to men, indicators show that we ALSO still bear the full brunt of household tasks as we did before we were so fully integrated in the workforce. In other words, most women do two jobs. It’s no surprise therefore, that many solutions to common daily issues come from female-driven product companies. After all, the best products are those that are developed to address one’s own real-world needs.
4.) The earliest days of what we call “brands” were female-oriented
Retail started off because those who manufactured products often lived far from the cities with marketplaces that could sell them. You made butter, cheese, cloth, pottery, etc. but you didn’t have a horse or car, so someone took your things to town and market for you. Those in-betweens sold them at a markup and paid you minus their margin. That’s it. The thing is, the makers in that process were often women.
5.) In a world where full inclusiveness is still somewhat elusive, you can forge your own path – DTC is an equalizer
While full gender equality in the workplace is still a work in progress, there is freedom in forging one’s own path. Direct-to-consumer is a great equalizer because fantastic products thoughtfully marketed striaght to buyers leapfrog the various biased gatekeepers that can traditionally stall advancement for a product entrepreneur.
Here’s to the amazing cohort of female-led direct-to-consumer companies that are killing it!