Commuter Club Prepares for Crowdfunding; OffBlak Bolsters UK’s DTeaC Offering

Commuter Club Q&A

DTC’s Daily Digest brings you the latest news on the world’s fastest growing direct-to-consumer brands. In today’s edition: Commuter Club prepares for crowdfunding; OffBlak bolsters UK’s DTeaC offering; Walmart focuses on DTC pet wellbeing.

Commuter Club prepares for crowdfunding

Commuter Club, the UK’s leading independent train season ticket retailer and finance provider, is crowdfunding with Seedrs. Commuter Club buys an annual travel ticket for customers, and then lets them pay the cost back monthly.

The idea is that you have unlimited travel on your route, and you will make savings compared to buying the ticket monthly, weekly, or when using contactless. The business has also struck partnerships with other brands (including some fellow DTCs), such as Nutmeg, Uber, and Zipjet, that allow customers access to exclusive deals.

From a DTC perspective, the whole premise of commuter club is rather clever, as rail travel is an industry that has never been particularly personalised. What’s more, anyone who takes the train regularly will know that customer experience and customer satisfaction with British rail travel is poor, and sentiment towards the rail providers is even worse. Commuter Club, while not able to stop delays and overcrowding, are looking to be the customers’ best friend when it comes to rail travel, by bringing an element of personalisation and big money savings, to their customers lives.

The funding is now open to pre-registration, and Commuter Club has already issued nearly £70m in loans, to over 20,000 customers.

OffBlak bolsters UK’s DTeaC offering

The UK’s raft of direct-to-consumer brands is set to be joined by OffBlak, which aims to “set an exciting new course for tea”. OffBlak styles itself as a “lifestyle tea brand”, targeting consumers “driven by beauty, status and experience”.

All come in pyramid teabags packed in colourful slimline boxes resembling premium chocolate bars. The back of each pack includes information on the ingredients, caffeine level, recommended brewing time and what the tea ‘feels like’ – for example, ‘Finishing a yoga session’.

OffBlak wanted to be “more than tea” said Dmitry Klochkov, founder, OffBlak. “Today, natural ingredients are a given but often, good-for-you teas miss the mark when it comes to taste. “Our identity needed to redefine the category and capture OffBlak’s zero-compromise on taste and excitement, while being brave and direct,” he added. To mark its launch, OffBlak will run the push ‘Don’t buy our tea. Try it’, sending tea samples with Asos and Missguided orders from May. OffBlak’s visual identity was created by & Smith, which had given the D2C brand the “illustrative freedom that craft beer and coffee sectors have owned until now” said the agency’s creative partner Dan Bernstein.

Walmart focuses on DTC pet wellbeing

Walmart is ramping up its direct-to-consumer focus, aiming to win-over American pet owners. The plan revolves around launching an online pet pharmacy, as well as new ranges of pet foods, also sold online.

It is a move that will rattle DTC brands in the US, such as Chewy.com, which has been taking a growing portion of the market. Walmart says its goal overall is to beat the competition on price, lowering the average cost of pet ownership. But it’s also set its sights squarely on pet-loving millennials, who are actually the high-rollers in this segment.

While Americans spent USD$72.56bn (£56bn) on their pets in 2018, a 4% increase from the previous years, according to the American Pet Products Association, Walmart says the average millennial dog owner spends about USD$1,285 (£993) a year on their pet, including vet care, vaccinations, food and supplies.

Although this will raise a few eyebrows at DTC pet care brands, it was never their intention to beat the likes of Walmart on price, but to better their customer experience, personalisation, and quality. If they can continue to do this, they will also continue to see growth continue.