When Direct to Consumer Gets Personal

Part 1 – Roman

The transition from brick-and-mortar to direct-to-consumer has been one of the most fascinating channel disruptors to watch during my marketing career.

DTC has become such a norm that there is no shock-and-awe to the news we wake up to each day.

  • “Toys ‘r Us” is closing…I’ll miss that giraffe, but he should have pivoted.
  • Amazon wants to deliver packages to the trunk of my car…sounds good, let me share my tracking info 24/7.

Everyday it seems there are more and more traditional categories being challenged by DTC. Three that have stood out to me in the past half of the year are Roman (detailed in this article), Madison Reed, and Smile Direct (breakdowns on the latter two to follow soon). These companies all embrace a DTC model for delivery, but I’m more interested in how they used DTC to construct a communication channel that removes barricades to purchase.

Each of these companies is focused on health, medical, or beauty – highly personal service lines that are not always the most comfortable for person-to-person communications. Their achievement is NOT the creation of a DTC delivery channel. Their achievement (and hopeful future success) is the creation of a DTC model that lets consumers address a personal issue…without getting personal.

ROMAN (https://www.getroman.com/)
Per their site “Roman offers remote online diagnosis for erectile dysfunction and convenient monthly delivery of medication.”

The previous communication model for men with erectile dysfunction or sexual health issues was:

1) Call and talk to a receptionist or call center to schedule an appointment
2) Go to a doctor’s office
3) Talk to a receptionist
4) Talk to a nurse
5) Talk to a doctor
6) Talk to – and pick up a prescription – from a pharmacist.

Seems like a whole lot of contact points and awkward conversations.

Roman has turned that lengthy, uncomfortable, and awkward conversation into a seamless DTC process. Their service goes well beyond supply chain management. They’re one of the emerging companies that are looking to make both a service (healthcare) and a product (ED prescriptions) a true DTC model.

The Cleveland Clinic (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10035-erectile-dysfunction) reports that “one in every 10 males” will suffer from ED issues. So Roman is looking at a potential audience of 10% of males, not a bad target audience size. And, they are making the entire process easier for consumers.

Personally, I think Roman has launched a service…a digital age Roman empire that could start a trend in healthcare DTC.

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