LSTN is a social enterprise that makes beautiful headphones, ear buds and speakers from real wood. The company was started after founders Bridget Hilton and Joe Huff saw the most inspiring and heartwarming video of a woman hearing for the first time at age 29. Proceeds from every LSTN purchase go to giving someone the gift of hearing through charity partner Starkey Hearing Foundation. After being featured on shelves in several prominent retailers, their strategy is changing to be solely direct to consumer.
So why is LSTN cutting out the middlemen? Hilton breaks down the top 3 reasons to take your brand direct to consumer:
1. Customer Experience
LSTN is an extremely story-oriented brand. Going straight to consumer gives the customer the best overall experience possible. LSTN gets to tell the story through videos, photos and blog, which makes the customer a much bigger brand advocate than if they had purchased in a retail store. They also have a risk-free trial for anyone looking to try out our product without committing. Lastly, LSTN offers incredible warranties and customer service, which would be more challenging to control in a retail environment.
2. Bigger Margins
Competing with other brands in retail is basically a game of who has the most money to spend on packaging, displays and placement vs. the quality of the product itself. Often in electronics, the packaging could cost a brand even more than the product, which leads to cutting corners everywhere else. While LSTN finds design and presentation to be uber important for the brand, they found this particular point ridiculous since most people just throw packaging away.
3. Smarter, Faster Product Development
Selling into retailers can be an incredible opportunity for some companies. For LSTN, it took time away from developing new products and focusing on data-driven decisions. Setting up a major retailer can take months or years - then once set up, the product needs to be shipped to each store where it is eventually going to (hopefully) end up with a buyer. Or not - it could backfire and you could be in for a huge return that might be a huge detriment to the company. Direct to consumer allows LSTN to experiment with new products, collaborations and designs faster and with lower minimums so they can really dial into what customers are looking for. When you sell through a retailer, you don't own the data so it's hard to make smart decisions about product development.
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