What Is a DNVB (Digitally Native Vertical Brand)?


Ecommerce marketing lingo is an ever-changing landscape with new terms ringing in our ears like digital tinnitus. Buy-to-detail rates, closed loops, cohort analysis, SEM, conversion paths, growth hacking–it’s easy to get lost in digital marketing-speak unless you’re fulfilling the meat-and-potatoes marketing tasks for your company. If you’re a business owner or involved in the online promotion of your business, you’ll want to take your fork to a few specific terms that have real bite in this business like a digitally native vertical brand (DNVB). Sure, it’s a mouthful, but it’s not just trendy lingo. DNVBs have staying power, especially in a post-COVID selling world. Let’s discuss:


What is a Digitally Native Vertical Brand: Let’s Break It Down

A digitally native vertical brand is a hybrid term, so let’s assess each element. First, to be a digitally native brand means that a company began as a digital platform; it didn’t start out as a brick-and-mortar business like Target, Macy’s, or Best Buy. In short, a digitally native business started out by selling its products and/or services on the internet. Amazon, Bonobos, and Wayfair are digital natives. There are lots of companies, including many direct-to-consumer brands, that began as digital businesses too. 


Digital natives are not companies that moved into the digital realm (as most are doing today) to sell their products and services online as well as from their retail locations. Conversely, digital natives, though it doesn’t happen as frequently, can and have opened brick-and-mortar storefronts later on.


The second half of our focus term–vertical brand–refers to businesses that are vertically integrated. That is, the brand controls its product and selling experience all the way from the factory to the point of consumer delivery. In this aspect, retailers selling on Amazon do not qualify as vertically integrated brands because they don’t have control over the entire sales process from factory to consumer. 


A vertically integrated brand enjoys a heightened ability to customize its experience. These brands tend to boast better quality control measures and more responsive customer service or client support. As it happens, because these brands have all the control in regards to their selling experience, they collect all the data and information needed to continually improve and personalize that experience, which leads to better-satisfied customers and greater success for the brand. Any brand that designs and sells their products or services either online or from their brick-and-mortar location directly to consumers could be considered a vertically integrated brand.


Taken as a whole, of course, a digitally native vertical brand started out online and sells its products or services directly to consumers, controlling everything from the factory to consumer. Today, there are some highly successful DNVBs you have probably heard of such as Warby Parker, Casper, Soylent, and Everlane


Key DNVB Takeaways

Although some might be tempted to dub DNVBs as control freaks, there’s a lot to be said for cutting out the middlemen and doing things entirely their own way. For one, no middlemen (i.e. no Amazon or Nordstroms) typically translates into lower costs for customers. And these companies definitely market those cost savings as well as other benefits they provide such as better customer service and support. 


DNVBs are internet-born—like kids today—so they’re tech-savvy and seem to master effective customer communication via online channels like SMS, social media, and email in ways that many established brick-and-mortar companies still struggle with to get right. Maybe they get a little too hyper-focused about customer experience and their need for control, but, hey, as the new kids on the block, they’re still evolving.


So, whether you are a DNVB or in competition with them, you’ll need to be mindful of the accelerating growth of these brands and how the pandemic is supercharging that growth. The truth is, COVID has changed the way people shop and when this pandemic subsides, there’s no reason to assume that this new wave of armchair shoppers will go back to the way things were en masse. 


To compete digitally with DNVBs or other online businesses, consult with Stretch Creative to find out why our content and copywriting services can help you use your fork to pluck out a bigger piece of the proverbial sales pie. If you’re hungry, we’re hungry too. Let’s dine!