Research conducted in 2020 found that the majority of sales for DTC brands came from a home city - or a city where a physical shop was located (77.% of brands sold more than 50% in or near a headquarters or hub city).

The obvious insight is that most DTC brands are way too local and need prioritize geographic expansion.

So, while native DTC brands bring new channels online (wholesale etc), they should pay strong consideration to planting the flag in new cities and countries. 

Some of the strategies to scaling into new geographies include:

  1. Doing roadshows, with pop-up retail events or private buying events
  2. Applying focus to hyper-local PR (getting coverage into local media …and with local influencers)
  3. Cross-pollenating with brands from other geo’s
  4. Using local distributors
  5. Setting up on Amazon and ‘opening up’ new geo’s

Conventional logic says that ‘we are still not maximizing the opportunity at home, so are not going to turn our attention to other markets.’ This makes sense for very small DTCs, but for larger brands, geographic expansion can offer big gains. 

Brands take a long time to mature and grow. So by the time a brand ‘has maximized’ its home market, larger opportunities may have passed them by. The brand may find itself relegated to being a city/regional champion, instead of true category leader. 

The infrastructure to support international growth has expanded rapidly over the past couple of years. Shopify, Amazon, Salesforce (among others) have made scaling internationally a real priority and are rolling out the tools and support to help brands more efficiently expand.