Our guest on this week’s DTC pod was Matt Hayes, Co-Founder and Head of Growth for The Fascination: a curated marketplace where consumers can discover, research, and shop amazing online brands – all in one place.

It’s like Amazon… if Amazon sold only products you love, created by unique, sustainable, ethical, and diverse brands.  

Errr, nevermind... not like Amazon at all! 

We chatted with Matt about growing an online marketplace and curating brands consumers adore.

‍The Takeaways: 👇

🛍️ The appeal of curated online marketplaces:

With the boom of eCommerce, and new DTC brands being launched every week, there’s been a mass fragmentation of the marketplace. 

As a result, shoppers are overwhelmed with options, or as Matt puts it, “consumers have browser tab overload…”

Yes. Yes, we do. *closes 23 open tabs* 😐

Curated marketplaces provide a one-stop-shop for consumers to go for products they know they’ll love

In the case of The Fascination – have been reviewed and tested by real people.

But it’s not just consumers that win. Brands can also benefit from partnering with online marketplaces:

  • Exposure to new audiences
  • Cost-effective acquisition channel
  • Diversified acquisition strategy outside of paid search/paid social

🔥 Hot-button trends customers are loving:

The Fascination loves to feature “culture-defining brands” that are going against the established norms and breaking taboos. 🙊

And shoppers seem to love them, too. 

Here are some trends Matt sees gaining traction in the DTC space:

  • Sexual wellness.
  • Non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Men’s skincare and “manscaping products.”
  • Clothing brands that offer inclusive/universal sizing.

🎣 Building backlinks with “ego bait”:

Want to know the best way to get your content shared?

Feature the person/company that you want to share it! (AKA “ego bait”).

The Fascination employed this tactic in their marketing strategy early on.

They created entertaining and share-worthy content that featured their favorite brands and then asked those brands to share it (most of them did). 

This helped to not only build backlinks but also created a “network effect” that drove traffic and expanded brand awareness.

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