5 Years of DTC: Diffusion’s 2023 Direct-to-Consumer Purchase Intent Index


Since 2018, Diffusion has published an annual report on the state of consumer purchase intent as it relates to traditional retail and DTC brands. This year, our fifth iteration, explores how leaders in the DTC landscape are feeling going into next year, how trends have ebbed and flowed over the years and the challenges these brands have faced along the way. Diffusion’s 2023 Direct-to-Consumer Purchase Intent Index also looks ahead into a future ruled by ever-changing consumer expectations.

Aesthetically pleasing content is no longer pleasing 

We all remember the days when we thought the perfectly curated content could fix all of our problems, and while digital media seems to be going back to its roots of less than perfect, genuine content, DTC brands have also been following suit.

In 2020, over 1 in 4 DTC consumers (26%) found DTC brands to be arbiters of what’s “cool” or on-trend. But in 2022, things have shifted. Only 13% of consumers said that DTC brands typically have a cool and trendy aesthetic – a significant 50% decrease from 2020.

Traditional Retail isn’t going anywhere

Traditional retailers were quick to catch on to changes in consumer expectations. Convenience factors such as fast and free shipping, which in 2020 made DTC standout, became the new norm. DTC also had a reputation for having top-tier customer service, but that too was quickly adopted by traditional retailers, blurring the lines between DTC brands and traditional retailers even further.

Only a year ago, 57% of DTC consumers agreed that if a DTC brand offered guaranteed, fast, free shipping, it would secure their continued loyalty as a customer.  This year, only 12% of consumers said that they prefer to shop with DTC brands because they have fast, free shipping.

Generational Gravitation 

Millennials and Gen Z are (and always have) been keener to purchase and celebrate DTC brands than any other generation. Is it the digital prowess of their generation? Is it the fact that Gen Z’s purchasing power has sharply increased in the year’s during DTC’s rise to retail revolution?

What we do know is that Gen Z and Millennials show greater affection for brands that more closely align with their values. 19% of consumers ages 18 – 34 reported they would rather purchase from a DTC brand because they are committed to using organic and eco-friendly ingredients more than traditional brands, compared to 14% of respondents aged 35-54 and only 7% from consumers ages 55+.

The report further unveils that DTC brands have an opportunity to lean into their online presence and connect with younger audiences in a more direct way through integrated marketing communication campaigns and creating a community for their brand.

Have we piqued your interest? Check out this year’s full report to get all the insights HERE


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