Infographic: What Shoppers Actually Think About the Hottest Direct-to-Consumer Trends

Brandweek and YouGov teamed up for a survey on ecommerce, pop-ups and subscription services

While most people would still rather shop in person, many are turning to online retailers to buy directly or research products. Illustration: Jan Kallwejt
Headshot of Kristina Monllos

With a bevy of direct-to-consumer upstarts regularly entering the market, we wanted to find out not only how consumers shop but also how they perceive trends within the DTC brand space. That’s why Brandweek partnered with YouGov to survey 2,494 adults across the U.S. on their preferences when it comes to online shopping, pop-up shops and subscription boxes.

The results show that while the majority of consumers still prefer to shop in person, a significant number are turning to online retailers, whether to buy directly online or to research an item before buying it in a store. Customers are most comfortable buying personal electronics and small appliances online, followed by clothes, shoes and health products. Though, there’s room for growth when it comes to furniture and major household appliances. 

Fourteen percent of respondents said they like to shop online for big-ticket items like couches and refrigerators, notes Larry Shannon-Missal, head of U.S. data services for YouGov; 35 percent for personal electronics; and 33 percent for small household appliances. Several other categories—shoes and accessories, clothing, and health and nutrition products—ranked in the mid to high 20s.

“The data says to me that online is indispensable,” explains Shannon-Missal. “It’s a part of many people’s purchase journey. What’s more, it’s part of the younger people’s purchase journey—it’s only going to get more pervasive.”


He adds: “While as low as 14 percent saying they prefer to shop online may not seem all that much, it’s certainly enough to make an impact in a sometimes low-margin world like retail; over a third preferring to buy online at the higher end can lead to some outsized impacts. It’s worth looking across industries, as I think you’ll see that the ones with the higher online preference are often the ones where you’re more likely to have heard about brick-and-mortar store closings.”

Surveys often show a sharp divide between generations, notes Shannon-Missal, but the data here shows a divide between 18- to 54-year-olds and those 55 and older. “This is not just millennials,” says Shannon-Missal. “This is fully embraced by a lot of consumers throughout a couple of generations at this point.”

Pop-up shops continue to be a draw. The data shows that six in 10 consumers have at least heard of pop-up shops, with the majority of respondents interested in going to pop-up shops for online-only brands they’ve heard of.

And as for subscription services, “there’s a significant drop-off,” notes Shannon-Missal, as more than half of consumers worry about spending too much money.

Data source: YouGov/Brandweek survey

The Fans. The Brands. Social Good. The Future of Sports. Don't miss the upcoming Brandweek Sports Marketing Summit and Upfronts, a live virtual experience on Nov. 16-19. Early-bird passes available until Oct. 26. Register now

This story first appeared in the Feb. 4, 2019, issue of Brandweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.