Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

How DTC brand Piglet is shaking up the homewares sector

NDA is running a series of interviews with leaders at some of the most innovative DTC brands exploring how they are building their brands, ahead of an upcoming report on the DTC market in association with  Control v Exposed (CvE).

Jake Newbould, Head of Digital Marketing, Piglet

What are the biggest opportunities for your brand in 2020?

Now we’ve launched into the U.S this is a huge opportunity for Piglet to take a share of the huge homewares market. We have all the relevant infrastructure and tech stack in place now that will really help fuel continued growth in both the U.K and U.S.

We’re also looking to expand our product range, selling other complimentary products for your home. Our plan is to really strive in becoming a go to destination for a community looking to unwind in comfort.’

What are your biggest challenges in customer acquisition and retention?

The rise in customer acquisition costs are pretty clear for all to see, that’s why we’re constantly trying to diversify our media spend where possible, so all our eggs aren’t in 1 basket so to speak.

In terms of retention, we actually do a pretty good job at that already, albeit every brand is fighting with customer churn rate, we combat that by priding ourself on excellent customer service and product quality, our Truspilot reviews reflect that.

Consumers can be pretty fickle in their buying habits and with such a crowded marketplace no single brand really solely owns any one customer, “If you want loyalty, buy a dog” is a much-cited quote from Byron Sharp, go read his book ‘How brands grow’.

What digital channels are most effective for you and how do you see this changing this year?

Since inception and currently our most effective media channels are Facebook and Instagram, both from a paid and organic point of view. We’ve built a strong following on Instagram which continues to grow exponentially.

Although I can’t see our media budget flipping anytime soon, we are trialing Pinterest ads and seeing some positive early results for introducing the brand to relevant audiences in the early discovery stages of their home planning journey!

Email is another channel that we’re placing a strong focus on in 2020, unsure where I read this but it’s stuck with me: ”The only thing you own is your website and your email list, unlike social which is rented space on borrowed time. So it’s important not to neglect it!”.

How important is brand marketing versus direct response for you?

Extremely important – even though we are still a bootstrapped ecommerce company in year four. We trialed a pop-up store in Notting Hill and experimented with large direct mail drops. It’s crucial we invest in long-term brand building early on if we want to achieve long term growth.

As a media buyer you want to see quick results and short-term activations can become addictive because you you’re able to see the immediate effect and pay back on your ad-spend.

Peter Field and Les Binet have undertaken some interesting research which talks about the broad brand play vs activation split, which favours a media plan to invest 60% for brand building and 40% for activation in communications budgets. Worth checking out their detailed studies on this!

How important is traditional media like TV and print?

If you could do it all plus digital activation then I’d want to be running TV ads and outdoor tomorrow, it’s just a matter of cost and how you plan your media budget to accommodate.

At the moment for Piglet, we’re not thinking about TV yet, but I’m sure it’s something we’ll look at in the future.

I see a lot of DTC ecommerce brands now running prime TV slots, It’s clearly a great medium to expand reach outside of social channels and most-likely creates a nice ‘halo effect’ on other digital channels.

Are physical retail experiences, including popups, in your planned strategy?

We trialled a pop-up shop in Notting hill a few years ago, it was an invaluable experience for us. We are expanding our trading into the U.S now also, and have been scoping out potential unique pop-up rental spaces.

If it makes sense commercially and fits with our overall brand feel then we’re always happy to trial.

Do you plan to build relationships with traditional distributors and retailers in addition to the DTC channel?

Yes, we already have a few key marketplace and wholesale partners we’re working with. Last month we launched with luxury British fashion-based department store Harvey Nichols.

So we’re really Looking forward to working together to gain further distribution for our brand to their impressive customer base.

What are the biggest lessons that established brands in your sector can learn from DTC brands?

Sounds a cliche but maybe how agile we can be with everything, from media planning to new product launches, we’re a fairly lean team at Piglet, so it eliminates many levels of hierarchy to get important things signed-off,

I’m not sure most established brands can move as quick if they needed to.

What lessons can DTC brands learn from their established predecessors?

Lots, hard to pin point exactly how they’re waving their magic wand, but from their in-store experiences to their online presence and customer service.

There’s a reason they have been around for so long and built up so much brand equity, clearly they’re doing lots of things right in such a competitive landscape.

How easy is it to find and retain the talent you need to build your business?

I can’t talk much about acquiring talent as i’m still a newcomer to the business myself! But speaking from the candidates’ point of view, I fully bought into the vision of what Piglet is about and what we want to achieve as a business.

Its stakeholders echoed that to me throughout the hiring process, I know i’m part of something greater than just being another cog in a corporate machine.

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