How DTC Snacking Became the Norm for Younger Shoppers

We may think of digital-native brands as shoes, athleisure, and bedding. But then there are snacks.

As we noted last week, there are few ways to truly define how DTC and digital-first brands have grown in the past year. It can't be reduced to pandemic needs because so much of the growth has been defined by what would be deemed as non-essential items. In other words, it wasn't DTC masks, hand sanitizer, or other staples that were dominating the space last year. It was a mix of everything.

And that includes snacks and other nonperishable food items. In August of 2020, the veritable height of the pandemic, a survey from and subscription management firm found that 54.6% of consumers were using direct-to-consumer channels to purchase consumables.

At the same time, many big manufacturers were rolling out their versions of the DTC model to the point that it became hard to count them. There was Clorox and Nike, sure, but also Pepsi, Ocean Spray, and Special K. Unilever opened an online store for Ben & Jerry’s fans to order their favorite ice cream flavors for home delivery. Even the DTC aesthetic, the logos and the font became a target for shameless pilfering.

What Pymnts and survey also revealed is that DTC use is highest among younger consumers with 67% of millennials relying on brands’ websites to purchase consumer packaged goods, compared to 41% of Baby Boomers and older demographic groups. It's more than just a trend. More than 73% of consumers who made DTC purchases online in the past year have indicated a likelihood to keep doing it. The reason was simple: Many of them could find exactly what they wanted online without having to worry about whether it was in stock or not.

That's where the snacking comes back in. According to research from Social Media Link, Millennials represent the top consumers of DTC brands in the food, beverage, and nutrition category. Part of that has to do with convenience and nature of digital natives. But it also centers on the innovation happening in the DTC space.

Magic Spoon, for example, creates cereal for adults who want the joy and nostalgia of being a cereal addict without the insane amount of sugar. Perky Jerky has made jerky less of a guessing game about ingredients and connected it a product that donating part of their profits to fund research into muscular dystrophy and Down Syndrome. Candy Club also doesn't just help underprivileged children throw birthday parties, it also brings together small sweets artisans and curates subscriptions in a highly customizable ways that arrive at consumers' doors.

Who could ever hunger for something more?