Over the past decade, direct-to-consumer brands have disrupted the way consumers buy goods — everything from mattresses to eyeglasses. But as these brands grow up, they begin to eye their next move: an exit.
Many of the DTC darlings that paved the way for other brands have either made their exits or are prepping them. Bonobos in 2017 was acquired by retail giant Walmart. Warby Parker earlier this year entered the public markets via direct listing. And Allbirds will soon begin trading publicly through an IPO.
Since the start of 2021, Retail Dive has tracked over 50 deals in the industry — including acquisitions and public listings. And as of Aug. 3, 123 DTC brands have exited by way of acquisition, buyout, IPO, de-SPAC transaction or reverse merger this year, according to PitchBook data.
Each exit comes with unique benefits: access to new customers, a wider distribution network, a sense of legitimacy. But they also come with risks.
Here's a look at some of the most popular exit strategies — and those gaining steam — among DTC brands today.