Starter Children, Fur Babies, and a DTC Success Story

If your fur baby could help lead you to a $250 million DTC subscription service, wouldn’t you want to be set for success?

Millennials are delaying child-rearing. Millennials love dogs. Millennials are receptive to DTC subscription services and advertising.

What do these three things have in common?

They’re a recipe for a $250 million business.

Barking up the money tree

It’s hardly surprising that younger people are delaying home-purchasing, parenting and other traditional milestones. Student loan debt is at historic levels and wage growth has been flat.

While you can’t eliminate the paternal/maternal impulse, you can reroute it. Priced out of parenthood, millennials are turning their thwarted parental impulses toward pets. 

Call them starter children, fur babies, or absurdly over-indulged animals, the numbers don’t lie: 44% of millennials see their pets as proxy children.

Brands in the flourishing pet care space have been quick to capitalize on this sentiment. Yet none are quite so well-positioned as DTC brands, who are firmly in the millennial sweet spot. They offer boutique, cleverly marketed products to a narrow yet hardcore audience; they deliver to your door and they are price competitive.

That’s more or less the millennial trifecta, and one of the brands that have been most successful at deploying this strategy is BarkBox. 

BarkBox is a DTC subscription service that delivers a box of dog treats to your door. Not revolutionary, sure. Yet the idea plays beautifully on several consumer preferences.

  • You don’t have to leave the house and visit a pet store full of poorly-differentiated toys and treats
  • You don’t have to spend time choosing what to buy
  • Your dog treats arrive in a box, curated for your pet’s enjoyment
  • The contents of each box are a mystery, making the process a bit like opening a gift
  • BarkBoxes are sold direct-to-consumer, with the parent company (Bark) largely relying on Facebook for marketing during its early growth phase

That’s a winning formula, and not just for pets. Another popular DTC subscription service, Universal Yums, curates boxes of candy and snacks from across the globe and sends a new box from a different country to subscribers each month. 

BarkBox, which handles its creative in-house, recently tested its first direct response TV ad, then measured the number of new subscriptions gained in the immediate wake of the ad. It’s a strategy that many DTC businesses are following, as they try to do more with less outside the confines of the traditional large agency model.

Direct to consumer marketing strategies have a variety of powerful benefits for brands such as Bark: They allow more control over brand messaging, they reduce costs, and they enhance flexibility.

Partnering with the right DTC marketing agency can help small businesses unlock these benefits and drive real, tangible results.

The takeaway

Small DTC businesses often lack the resources to partner with the largest agencies – yet that doesn’t mean they can’t have access to world-class campaigns. At Bigeye, we understand the DTC subscription service and advertising market on a deep level, and we’re nimble enough to help you create compelling direct to consumer marketing campaigns on demand. 

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