How D2C brands use education to stand out

“At first, we wanted to keep all the gory details about our testing processes out of the consumer’s sight, since we thought it might be too much unnecessary details,” Chapin says. “But we’re finding that people are interested in the science of sleep and are fascinated by their own sleeping habits. So we’re slowly lifting the veil and allowing people to see the work that we’re doing.” Jeff Chapin, Co founder and chief design officer of Casper, interview from Fast Company

Education is not about sales

It’s common practice in influencer marketing, for brands to work with agencies or platforms to help find the right ‘match’, meaning the right influencer. The platforms will talk about their special AI or other data points to allow for a good match. However, what does a good match really mean anyway?

Does this influencer know the main selling points of the brand, or already use the brand? If so, we could consider that a match in the sense that they could effectively promote the brand.

Does the influencer relate well to the target customer of the brand? If so, we could consider that a match in terms of the audience having an interest in the brand.

Now, if both of the above factors are met, it would be easy to assume a good match… if this type of match was only for sales.

What’s so interesting for brands about online creators and influencers though is their ability to provide education to their audience. When Brands fail to realize that and don’t educate the influencer, then what’s left is a poorly informed sales agent not unlike a late night TV infomercial. It doesn’t take long for someone to realize this person only has a surface level understanding of the brand.

Suddenly the human influencer is just a better version of your parents banner or display ads with no tangible story or depth. Instead of campaign ROI in sales, a good result would be clicks and views at best.

A better example of working with influencers can be found from this example from Lingokids on the Matchmade platform below. Because this app catered towards Mothers in Mexico, the brand (Lingokids) made direct efforts to chat with the influencers and make sure they knew how to use the app and be given ‘creative freedom’ to explain the functionality in their own unique way.

Education allows customers to get educated about the brand, which in turn leads to continuing sales, as opposed to one off sales campaigns.

Casper and the Science of Sleep proves that any brand can leverage education

Investors have started to realize there are strong leading indicators for finding successful D2C brands. Sunny Dhillon is one such investor. While he has correctly pointed out factors such as supply side disruption, what does he credit for Casper’s long term success? Simply put- Casper the brand.

And yet, Casper has still managed to sell around 40% of all mattresses-in-boxes since 2014. Why? Their fantastic multidimensional brand, manifested in their online presence. Supply-chain disruption was key to Casper successfully storming the mattress industry but brand — their moat — keeps them on top after their model has been copy-pasted. from Hackernoon

Casper committed early on to ‘lifting the veil’ and show their community of 20,000 brand advocates real data points and learnings.

When someone receives the casper learnings, they don’t talk about the mattress in terms of value for money or price. They don’t talk about product features. Instead, they talk about their emotions and attachments to Casper, how the mattress makes them feel and how real technical data reconfirms those emotions.

This education isn’t something a matched influencer can do from reading out a campaign brief,or an agency can put together in an ad campaign.

What Casper was able to do with their technical unveiling and early commitment towards brand building through education, was the ability for community members to graduate to become brand experts.

Who doesn’t want to be considered an expert of sleep, something we all need more of.

D2C Brand Education in action

  1. Counter Culture Cleaning with probiotics. They have a FAQ here. To apply the Casper Education, the brand could A) engage their community to actively test and participate in scientific studies B)treat ‘good bacteria’ and ‘probiotics’ as not a one off FAQ or About Section, but instead an ongoing “science of….” thought piece that can be dispersed in bite sized amounts for the community to relay onto friends and family and C) To focus on finding related communities of wellness, health and fitness and go beyond cleaning products, in a similar way how Casper goes beyond the mattress.

2) Fur This is a competitive space. Beauty products relying on buzz words like Vegan or cruelty free won’t emote enough of a story to get your unique brand proposition across. What Fur has done to combat that, is explain why certain parts of your body need to be treated differently. Possible Casper inspired education could be around the ‘science of smell’ , the human anatomy or on breaking taboos.

3.) Curist — What happens when your brand is solving a problem already well understood, like allergies? How can brands like Curist use education in a way they can stand out? One opportunity is to focus education on a subset of the larger problem. For instance, Animal related allergy relief is a great example and to show how this particular problem can be solved by the brand.