Welcome to The Week in Direct-to-Consumer, a weekly roundup for marketers from Quad Insights that sums up the latest news in the DTC space.

Former leaders at DTC brands launch AI-powered, off-price shopping app Yaysay

Former leaders at DTC companies Casper, Gilt Groupe and Stitch Fix have launched Yaysay, an AI-powered shopping app intended to mimic in-person, off-price deal hunting. “We’ve utilized AI combined with a novel shopping experience to digitally recreate the unique off-price treasure hunt experience online for the first time,” Yaysay CEO and Co-Founder Lindsay Ferstandig said in the launch announcement. The feed-based, gamified app refreshes its recommendations daily and functions similarly to swiping on a dating app — in that any “gems” you pass on are gone forever.

Related coverage: 

“DTC Execs Team Up to ‘Fill the Off-Price Void’ with new AI-Powered Shopping App” (Retail Touch Points)

The Washington Post explores e.l.f.’s success with product ‘dupes’

In a post titled “Viral ‘dupes’ make e.l.f. the makeup brand of the moment,” The Washington Post’s Jaclyn Peiser explores the beauty brand’s journey from its DTC roots, highlighting its success with less-costly duplicates of high-end products — ‘dupes’ for short. Peiser cites Charlotte Tilbury, Milk Makeup and Dior as some of the prestige brands for which e.l.f. offers product dupes, adding that the company’s “ability to capitalize on social media experimentation, supply-chain efficiency and multigenerational appeal have made it the beauty brand of the moment.” Read the full story here.

It’s been a busy year of product and marketing expansion for e.l.f. Some other highlights include the acquisition of skincare brand Naturium, an expanded celebrity partnership with Jennifer Coolidge, the brand’s debut on Roblox, a Bitmoji Beauty Drop on Snapchat and its debut of AR murals, as we noted in an earlier installment of The Week in Direct-to-Consumer.

Tonal offers Lululemon customers a trade-in program for Mirror fitness devices

With Lululemon discontinuing its Mirror fitness device and online classes, DTC fitness brand Tonal has launched a trade-in program for Lululemon customers, Retail Dive’s Howard Ruben reports. The program offers customers a $250 discount on a certified refurbished Tonal Trainer, a free first year of Tonal membership and free removal of the Mirror device from the customer’s home, per Ruben.

With the move, Tonal continues to evolve its customer expansion strategy. Last month, the company launched a partnership with Best Buy, Athletech News’ Courtney Rehfeldt reports, making its products available on BestBuy.com.

Lululemon discontinued its fitness Mirror and classes earlier this year per the terms of its announced partnership with Peloton, as we noted in an earlier installment of The Week in Direct-to-Consumer.

Related coverage: 

“Tonal Rolls Out Lululemon Mirror Trade-in Program” (Athletech News)

Ad Age explores DTC brands’ experimentation with AI image generators

In a post titled “DTC brands experiment with AI image generators for social—but some say the results are unusable,” Ad Age’s Phoebe Bain explores some of the struggles DTC brands are experiencing with AI image generators. As Bain explains, DTC brands are “using image generation tools in an attempt to feed the ever-hungry content beast on the cheap,” but some are finding the results unusable. One example cited by Bain is from the DTC wine brand Juliet Wine, which saw an AI image tool turn one of its boxed wine products into a candle. Read the full story here.

Further reading

“DTC and Digitally Native Brands Find Bright Spots in Linear TV” (Adweek)

“Shein Accused of ‘Mafia-Style’ Tactics by Rival Temu” (The New York Times)

“Alexander Wang Recommits to the North American Market and Expands DTC Business” (Women’s Wear Daily)

“Gen Alpha’s love for Drunk Elephant’s adult skincare products sparks backlash—what brands can learn” (Ad Age)

Thanks for reading.

If you’d like to catch up on prior installments of this column, start by heading to our last recap: “The Week in Direct-to-Consumer: December 15, 2023 edition”