The Next Wave of Podcasts Is Coming—This Time From DTC Brands

A lingerie company is among the first to try the format on

Lingerie brand Lively's podcast consists of 10 episodes. Facebook: LIVELY
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Brands and retailers jumping into the podcast pool is nothing new, with companies like Chanel and Barneys New York hopping on the trend. But now direct-to-consumer brands are slowly beginning to test the waters. And one of them—Lively, a women’s lingerie and leisure company—is debuting “The Lively Podcast: No Makeup Needed” today.

The 10-episode season, which follows an interview format, features guests like designer Rebecca Minkoff and Birchbox co-founder Mollie Chen chatting with Lively founder Michelle Cordeiro Grant about their jobs and lives, particularly what it means to become an entrepreneur and start a business. For now, Grant is testing podcasting to see if it aligns with what its customers want, while creating an environment where people can get away from social media.

“The real business objective of it right now is to give back to our community and maintaining that level of engagement and authenticity,” Grant said. “It should be about them getting something back from being part of this community.”

Grant said the idea for the podcast originally came out of Lively’s costumers constantly asking her questions about how she started the company and who she learns from. A podcast was the perfect medium, she said, to continue this conversation with Lively’s fans, especially as Grant heard that people were switching their ad dollars from Facebook and Google to podcasts.

“The podcast community, even though it’s small, [is] up and coming,” Grant said. “So we’re getting in early so we can figure it out. Hopefully, by the time the world is starting to adopt it more and more, we’ll be really good at it.”

She said she’ll be measuring the series by the usual factors: subscribers, downloads, reviews, shares and “good ‘ol personal feedback.” And though Grant said the money spent on a podcast doesn’t necessarily have a direct ROI, it’s tied to Lively’s “original goal” of gravitating toward what its customers want. (Lively did not reveal how much they’re actually spending to produce the podcast.)

“I think it’s awesome that more brands and organizations can understand different ways to connect with their customers beyond just products,” Grant said. “Yeah, today Lively sells bras and undies, but tomorrow—maybe concert tickets.”

So far, not many other DTC brands are testing the space. But Alex White, vp of content and programming at Pandora, said to expect more brands starting their own podcasts. But he cautions that these podcasts shouldn’t just be an extension of the brand and its advertising.

“The brands that win here will not just be releasing copycat content or thinly veiled advertisements but will offer their unique point of view tailored to the podcast medium,” White said. “With lots of great content to listen to, podcasts that are perceived in any way to be an extended advertisement will likely not perform well at all. In a world where more podcasts are being released than anyone can listen to in a lifetime, the content needs to be highly compelling to attract and retain listeners.”

Jeremy Kirkland, host of the Blamo! podcast and a podcast consultant, agrees. He warns brands against accidentally creating sponsored content instead of a podcast.

When you think about how every company and every brand right now is trying to become more of a storyteller and content creator, people are already bombarded by that,” Kirkland said. “What speakers and listeners really crave is authenticity.”

He added that it’s hard for a brand to truly loosen up on their own podcast, because whoever’s hosting the show will still think of the brand and stay on message.

“I would say the content needs to be parallel to your brand instead of about your brand,” Kirkland said.

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@itstheannmarie Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.