PYMNTS MonitorEdge May 2024

Shop Talk: Pair CEO Says Direct to Consumer Model Frees Brands to Get Personal

Shop Talk: D2C Frees Brands From Inventory Constraints of Stores

Without the limits of physical shelf space, direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands can offer a wider range of products that may be more niche or less universally appealing, allowing for greater personalization.

Sophia Edelstein, co-CEO and co-founder of D2C customizable glasses brand Pair Eyewear, discussed in a conversation for PYMNTS’ Shop Talk series how the channel enables the brand to better tailor its offerings to consumers’ specific preferences.

“You can have different types of experiences online for different types of customers,” Edelstein said. “And this is very different than the traditional retail model, where you walk into a store and there’s a set amount of inventory because there’s a set amount of retail space… In an eCommerce world, we can try to attract different customers and merchandise to them in replicas of the same store online with different types of merchandising. Because of that, we can get hyper-personalized to different types of customer segments we’re going after.”

Edelstein cited the example of the brand’s Disney collection, which appeals strongly to the media company’s fans, versus its Van Gogh collection, which would be attractive to a very different customer.

The D2C space additionally benefits from appealing to young consumers with cash to burn. The PYMNTS Intelligence report “The Online Features Driving Consumers to Shop With Brands, Retailers or Marketplaces” surveyed more than 3,500 U.S. consumers in October to understand their choices and behaviors when they buy online. The study found that Generation Z shoppers and consumers who earn more than $100,000 a year are the likeliest to prefer shopping directly from a brand.

Self-Expression and the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Shopper

Given the rise of financial instability, it is not enough to appeal to consumers with cash to burn. PYMNTS Intelligence research revealed that nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population lives paycheck to paycheck — the highest share in two years.

“Consumers, many of whom now are really thinking month to month, thinking paycheck to paycheck, they’re buying things that are necessities,” Edelstein said.

She added that Pair has seen its focus on fashion, providing a wide range of top frames to customize existing pairs of glasses, pay off with consumers who, amid financial pressures, are looking for relatively low-cost ways to treat themselves. She highlighted an increase in demand for these top frames since 2021, with these items providing a way for consumers to express themselves even when their budgets are constrained.

PYMNTS Intelligence research from last year found that 58% of consumers who live paycheck to paycheck with issues paying bills buy nice-to-have retail items at least sometimes, and 69% of those who live paycheck to paycheck without issues paying bills do the same.

“This really speaks to the consumer need for investing in products that are able to bring them joy on a day-to-day basis, and they … will purposely save up paycheck to paycheck in order to purchase these products,” Edelstein said. “That’s our thesis for why we think we’ve seen … this trend [of increased demand] within our product of top frames and customizable eyewear.”

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