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  • Claire Kalikman

It's a RETENTION game in DTC

As a generation of content tech platforms have reached relative maturity in a highly competitive market, we are seeing a sharp focus on retention plays to engage existing customers - experimenting with new use cases to build brand affinity in hopes to optimize lifetime value. With early growth ambitions being focused on new customer acquisition to reach competitive scale, this year has proved to be a year focused on keeping those hard-sought customers and giving more reasons for customers to spend more time on platforms. With the currency of “time spent on”, we are seeing growth moves focused on building community and tapping into other forms of engagement. As the customer flywheels fill in with experimentations, which retention plays will deliver big value to the customer experience? Here are a few examples of interesting moves we’re seeing in the DTC market.

HBO Max/Netflix/Amazon The streaming wars are entering new territory — podcasts. As podcasts take away some of the time users might have spent watching TV, HBO Max and Netflix want in on the action. Previously, streaming companies have released “companion podcasts” — podcasts that accompany a television show and give fans more content about an existing program (think Kara Swisher’s wildly popular Succession podcast). But now companies are writing scripted shows with famous actors and dramatic plotlines — basically TV shows without the TV. “We’re taking a test and learn approach,” Joshua Walker, chief strategy officer of HBO Max said. “If our fans tell us this is content they want to see more of then we’ll increase the investment.” Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have also made key strategic hires and investments in the space, indicating that podcasts are soon to come. This is an important move for these behemoth companies — they’ve recognized the boom in podcasts and understand that users want different types of content beyond digital video.

Pinterest Staying true to its purpose to help people create a life they love, Pinterest wants to support Pinners’ emotional well-being with the launch of a new mental health support initiative: Pinterest Havens. Through this initiative, the company is intentionally creating space on its platform to combat burnout and focus on mental health and rest. The Haven will include a collection of relaxing imagery and Pins about rest from stunning waterfalls to affirmations from Pinterest Creators and curated by Pinterest’s internal mental health community, in an effort to help users feel recharged and refreshed. As it saw an increase in users coming to the platform for inspiration around emotional well-being and positivity, Pinterest’s launch of Havens demonstrates how they keep a pulse on customer needs in order to drive engagement and connection with users. And this move doesn't just start and stop on the platform. Pinterest will activate the initiative through immersive art and community-building events in Chicago's South Side as well as donations to local organizations focused on mental health. As Pinterest continues to grow its user base and community, it's no wonder PayPal is interested in acquiring the brand -- it could be the start of a shopping powerhouse.

Spotify As obvious of a play for consumer electronic companies to enter into the streaming space, can the streamers have a go at the consumer electronics game? Introducing Car Thing. Car Thing is just what it sounds like – a device that connects your Spotify account to your car and lets you play music hands-free. Recognizing customer use patterns, Spotify saw an opportunity to meet their customer in one of the places they listen to the most music — a smart way to be even more relevant to them. This move is also Spotify’s first test of hardware and offline products. If it goes well, we may see Spotify headphones, vinyl records (if they can find any vinyl), or maybe even Spotify-branded concerts—all potential ways to deliver more value to existing users and drive new acquisition and growth.

Reddit Reddit has introduced a new way for its community to engage, with the launch of a feature called "Predictions." Users can create a Predictions Tournament where other users can predict the answers to questions, like guessing the outcome of a sports match, award ceremony, TV show, and more. While the feature currently doesn't involve any real money, there is a token distribution system to calculate the leaderboard. Social media apps like Snapchat and Facebook have leveraged similar games and features to engage their users, as every company is looking for new ways to keep their users on the site. As a platform already driven by a sense of community, Reddit is making a good bet on the value of predictions tools to allow users to interact on another level. While the feature is in its early stages, we see this as an interesting move not only for the opportunities for greater user engagement, but also because it is authentic to Reddit’s core identity as a platform and helps the brand stay relevant with users through competing on predicting current events and pop culture. And, who's to say — they may monetize this feature in the future. Sources: The Verge, TechCrunch, Quartz, Mashable

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