This report looks at the current state of DTC food brands in terms of marketing and sales performance, customer retention and lifecycle.
It is not representative of direct to consumer food brands globally. But it can serve as an essential ecommerce metrics benchmark for ecommerce companies starting out in the field.
Participants: Direct-to-consumer (DTC) food brands we work with that agreed to be part of the survey.
The sub-categories identified are: coffee, tea, chocolate, wine, meat and meat products, fresh juices, ready meal delivery businesses and miscellaneous foods and beverages.
Methodology: The DTC metrics are aggregated through the Metrilo accounts of consenting companies.
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Overall, about 1/3 of customers shop the same brand repeatedly. Tea brands don’t manage to keep a lot of customers, about 18%, while wine sellers see as much as 48% return customers.
Wine and meal delivery businesses score the highest LTV – $737 and $233 respectively. This may be expected for an expensive product like wine. Ready-made meals, however, benefit from high retention rate and one of the highest numbers of orders in the survey, 2.8.
It turns out chocolate and tea struggle to get repeat orders (1.4 on average), while coffee (2.6), meal deliveries (2.8) and wine (3.3) are top performers again. Of course, reasons can vary:
The winner in this category are meat delivery brands with only 74 days between orders. This and a retention rate of about 35% makes these brands quite successful in winning customer loyalty. Fresh juice and coffee brands seem to not be doing so well with TBO of 129 and 143 days respectively.
While some of the DTC food brands surveyed do offer subscriptions, not all do. Аutomating monthly reorders will improve sales greatly. Chocolate has the highest TBO logically as a nonessential product that probably gets mostly bought as a gift.
Meat and meal deliveries, groceries and fresh juice brands all need to improve the checkout experience as cart abandonment rates are very bad, over the average 61%.
Wine (34%), tea (54%) and coffee (55%) brands have relatively better results. This shows they manage to convince the visitor and there are less barriers to purchase. Extra fees or inconvenient shipping times would affect meal deliveries, for example.
Being specialty goods, often shopped for occasion, wine and chocolate stores apparently get traffic with very high intent. Their conversion rates are in the double digits (13% and 10%). All other subcategories are more everyday items and conversion rate hoovers around 5%.
Surprisingly, social traffic does not convert as much as expected – search channels bring more sales overall. Here’s a breakdown of acquisition sources:
SEO, Brand search/ direct visit, Google CPC, Instagram and Facebook work well for DTC food brands. Email, bing, referral sites, price comparison sites, and review sites show potential but do not bring many sales for now.
Chocolate is a luxury item and so it does not do very well in terms of customer retention and regular sales. But high intent (buyers getting it as a gift) results in great conversion rate (10%) and high LTV ($188).
Coffee brands manage to keep a good portion, 38%, of customers coming back, which is good for a staple product. The average time between orders of 143 days seems a bit high – if yours is less, that’s good, coffee is needed every day, after all!
The fresh juice brands survey don’t do great compared to other sub-categories. Customer retention, repeat orders and lifetime value are below the averages. The subscription options keep customers coming back to some extent (28%). But an LTV of $162 dollars is low for such a premium product, starting at about $20 a bottle.
Meal delivery brands do better than the average food brand online. A retention rate of 39% and 2.8 orders per customer on average is awesome. Those companies are on the right track. Comparing the brands in the category, we found that those that cater to specific diets (low carb, gluten free, etc.) score higher in LTV and retention. People on eating regimes are more motivated to stick to a verified provider.
Meat companies thrive online. Of course, part of the reason is that all of them are modern farms or collectives that produce quality meat, which shoppers online prefer over industrial incumbents. With over one-third of customers coming back and 2.3 orders per customer on average, those brands have things under control.
This is the toughest category we surveyed: bad retention rate, low conversion rate and very small LTV. The brands that manage to score better are positioned as premium tea. Dietary aid or slimming product have a retention rate about 30%, LTV is double the category average, and conversion rate is 7%.
It seems wine is a great product to sell online! This is the best-performing category we surveyed. A whooping retention rate of 48%, amazing 3.3 orders per customer and a $737 average LTV. These brands literally live on regular customers. The unbelievably low 34% cart abandonment rate and the conversion rate of 13% show traffic is highly qualified and with high intention to buy.
Note: In the Misc food category fall various product brands in product categories such as baked goods and mixes, cereal, nuts, and packaged soups, which we put together because they are general groceries and we didn’t have a statistically significant sample size if we break them into smaller sub-groups.
Note 2: Online groceries are not included because they don’t count as DTC food brands.
Note 3: Money values have all been converted to US dollars for comparison.
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