2019 ‘IAB 250’ Report Uncovers Most Important Disruptor Consumer Brands in U.S. Economy

Comprehensive IAB Study Finds Leading Direct Brands Reshaping Sectors from Apparel to Personal Care

PHOENIX--()--IAB, the national trade association for the digital media and marketing industries, today released its second annual "IAB 250 Direct Brands to Watch" report identifying the direct-to-consumer brands that are driving positive change in the U.S. consumer economy. The companies—including both now-familiar brands, such as Glossier and Warby Parker, as well as newer upstarts such as Brandless and Oars & Alps—are the fast-growing consumer brands redefining the relationships between brands and customers.

“We are in the midst of a seismic change in business practices, enabled by the growth of digital media and driven by a new generation of digitally native entrepreneurs” said Randall Rothenberg, CEO, IAB. “Collectively, the IAB 250 are models of the best practices and trends that are overturning and revolutionizing consumer markets in the U.S. They are setting the competitive standards by which the world’s largest incumbent brands are beginning to base their strategies and investments.”

Disruptors brands are surfacing in all categories, from Stitch Fix and Allbirds in the apparel and fashion sector; Seesaw and The Honest Company in baby care and parenting; to Drizly and Winc in beer, wine, and alcohol. There are seven characteristics that remain similar no matter what category they compete in:

  • Direct brands are centered around individual consumer relationships and the data they provide
  • Direct brands are web-native
  • Direct brands are socially closer to the consumer
  • They are “maniacally focused” on consumer experience
  • Direct brands use content as a differentiator
  • They define content more broadly than incumbent brands and partners
  • Their mission is central to their story

Brands like Billie, in the personal care category, lead the way in social community building and storytelling. They are creating unique and individual relationships through, storytelling, customization, and a relentless attention to customer experience, according to the IAB. By creating buzz-worthy experiences, we see that these companies are not confined to the web; they are a bright spot in the dim outlook for retail. Creating physical experiences are a natural extension of these community-driven brands and are propelling new store growth with over 850 physical locations projected to be opened in the next 5 years.

The diversity among the 250 businesses listed in IAB’s report is notable. Nearly a quarter of the direct brands to watch are helmed by women. This trend is in sharp contrast to the Fortune 500, which can claim just 5 percent female leadership. In addition, while New York and California are known as the hubs of digital disruption, nearly 100 of the brands came from a broad range of other locations. Texas is the home of 8 direct brands to watch, with another 6 from Washington state, 6 from Massachusetts, 5 from Illinois and 4 from Chicago. Other states represented include: Idaho, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming and Wisconsin.

“The impact of the growth of these companies is rippling through their respective supply chains, and is seen across the entire country,” said Sue Hogan, Senior Vice President, Research and Measurement, IAB. “If you look at our online interactive headquarter location map, it is represented by brands with headquarter locations from coast to coast, and everywhere in between.”

The report was released at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona to an audience of over 1,200 influential brand marketers, agencies, technology firms, and publishers.

The report features 10 distinct product categories. Apparel/fashion companies accounted for the vast majority of direct brands to watch, with 90 companies on the list.

New this year: the velocity of social media buzz and social footprint was factored, revealing that rapid increases in social attention are happening in virtually every category on the list. In addition, nearly one-third of the brands listed, with representation in each and every category within the “IAB 250,” are built on subscription models, demonstrating that a guaranteed, steady flow of revenue is possible across a range of sectors and products.

Below is the complete list of companies, ranked in each category:


1. Foot of the Bed Cellars
3. Splash Wines
4. Drizly
6. Flaviar
7. Bright Cellars
8. Winc


1. Stitch Fix
2. Outdoor Voices
3. Huckberry
4. Taft Clothing
5. Dolls Kill
6. ThirdLove
7. Adore Me
8. Untuckit
9. Rent the Runway
10. Paul Evans
11. Stance
12. Tommy John
13. FabFitFun
14. Everlane
15. Knot Standard
16. Primary
17. Shinesty
18. Gwynnie Bee
19. The RealReal
20. Wantable
21. Foot Cardigan
22. MeUndies
23. Hickies
24. TrackSmith
25. Yellowberry
26. Ledbury
27. Poshmark
28. Bucketfeet
29. Bombfell
30. American Giant
31. Sole Society
32. Kidbox
33. Sock 101
34. Tomboy Exchange
35. Betabrand
36. Bombas
37. Plae
38. Tecovas
39. Cuyana
40. Pistol Lake
41. Ivory Clasp
42. Buck Mason
43. Tamara Mellon
44. Schoola
45. Nadine West
46. Mack Weldon
47. Cairn
48. FabKids
49. Trendy Butler
50. Allbirds
51. Draper James
52. AUrate
53. Dagne Dover
54. Rothy's
55. AYR
56. Jack Erwin
57. Sweatbox
58. Ellie
59. Rockets of Awesome
60. Original Stitch
61. Cotopaxi
62. Lively
63. Koio Collective
64. Neighborhood Goods
65. Five Four Group
66. Nisolo
67. Richer Poorer
68. Reformation
69. Carbon38
70. Bow & Drape
71. Chubbies Shorts
72. M. Gemi
73. Monica and Andy
74. Ratio Clothing
75. Wear Pact
76. Boon & Gable
77. Dia&Co
78. BauBax
80. Fame and Partners
81. Harper Wilde
82. Ministry of Supply
83. Orchard Mile
84. M.M Lafleur
85. Mizzen Main
86. ADAY
87. Combatant Gentlemen
88. Hush
89. Thesis
90. Thursday Boot Co
91. True & Co

Baby Care/Parenting

1. The Honest Company
2. Bluum
3. SeeSaw
4. Owlet Babycare


1. BeautyCounter
2. Beautylish
3. Glossier
4. Scentbird
5. Memebox
6. Function of Beauty
7. Madison Reed
8. Pinrose
9. Ipsy
10. LOLI Beauty
11. Facetory
12. Curology
13. Glam Squad
14. Oars & Alps
15. Boxycharm
16. Stowaway
17. CodeCombat
18. littleBits
19. Surprise Ride
20. Educents
21. VersaMe


1. Freshly
2. Plated
3. Thrive Market
4. Doggyloot
5. NatureBox
6. Munchery
7. UrthBox
8. Hungry Harvest
9. Candy Club
10. Blue Apron
11. Sun Basket
12. Doordash
13. BarkBox
14. Aloha
15. Craft Coffee
16. Daily Harvest
17. Home Chef
18. Soylent
19. Cleancult
20. blissmo
21. Trubrain
22. PrettyLitter
23. Postmates
24. LoveWithFood
25. Fuego Box
26. The Farmer's Dog
27. Bean Box
28. Ripple Foods
29. Califia Farms
30. Sudden Coffee
31. Revere
32. Bulu Box
33. Crowd Cow
34. Gobble
35. Yumi
36. TryTheWorld
37. Desert Farms
38. Hungry Root
39. Bulletproof
40. Health-Ade Kombucha
41. NomNomNow
42. Ollie
43. Wag
44. Green Chef
45. Kettlebell Ktchen
46. PRE Brands
47. Dirty Lemon
48. Taste Guru
49. Halo Top
50. Boxtera


1. Loot Crate
2. KuIU
3. Baublebar
4. Robb Vices
5. Tonal
6. Lugloc
7. Truefacet
8. KiwiCo
9. Rocksbox
10. Osmo
11. Alpha Outpost
12. Fanchest
13. Please And Carrots
14. Nomatic
15. Paravel
16. Moment
17. DateBox
18. Airside Mobile
19. Bouqs
20. Vapor Liq
21. Goldie Blox
22. Away


1. Grove Collaborative
2. Brooklinen
3. Snowe
4. Ugallery
5. Framebridge
6. Brandless
7. Boll & Branch
8. ArtLifting
9. Interior Define
10. Burrow
11. Helix Sleep
12. Dormify
13. Greetabl
14. Casper
15. Leesa
16. Parachute
17. Touch of Modern
18. Joybird

Personal Care

1. Dollar Shave Club
2. Warby Parker
3. Birchbox
4. Harry's Razors Company
5. Eargo
6. Teadora Beauty
7. Hims
8. Quip
9. Thinx
10. Hubble Contacts
11. Simple Contacts
12. Lola
13. Billie
14. Goby
15. SmileDirectClub
16. Candid
17. Native Deodorant
18. Kopari


1. GoNoodle
2. AliveCor
3. Ritual
4. Green Gorilla
5. Elysium Health
6. Zeel
7. Buck Brush Company
8. Uplift Ventures
9. Care/Of
10. Monthly Gift
11. Capsule
12. One Drop
13. Vireo Health
14. Keeps
15. HVMN
16. vitafive
17. Peloton
18. HelloFlo

"The IAB 250 report shows how deeply direct-to-consumer brands have pervaded the national market, with thriving companies to watch in 21 states and D.C.," said Rothenberg. "This is a movement—not just in advertising and marketing, not just in terms of the disruption of traditional sales models, but in the opportunity for Americans to shift perspective for more effective, efficient and collaborative brand/consumer relationships. The 250 brands to watch has evolved from a list of identified logos to a brand tracker indicating momentous change, made possible by the walls broken down by digital media, metrics, and ecommerce."

"This report illustrates the impressive diversity of the direct brand economy," added Hogan. "With this, the influence of direct brands in the market is clearly evident. They are marketing in breakthrough ways. and driving traditional brands to rapid innovation. This roster of 250 disruptors, combined with the trends being revealed by Randall and our guest speakers at the conference, are a roadmap forward."

The “IAB 250” is sponsored by the Direct Brand Initiative Strategic Partners, Google, Hulu, Pinterest, and Spotify.

To see the complete report, please visit https://www.iab.com/iab250.


All IAB 250 Brands to Watch in 2019 are founded no earlier than 2010. IAB provides a selection of direct brands across categories for Dun & Bradstreet to match against their SMB list, and using additional data collection from multiple sources, including Rival IQ for social footprint and velocity, IAB passes the data through an weighting formula for an overall Company Score: Economic Efficiency (e.g., Revenue; # Employees); Financial Confidence (e.g., Revenue; Funding; Partners; Max Valuation); and social metrics. Data collected also includes company name, URL, and CEO name. Companies are aggregated into 10 categories for presentation purposes.

About IAB

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. Its membership is comprised of more than 650 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital advertising or marketing campaigns. The trade group fields critical research on interactive advertising, while also educating brands, agencies, and the wider business community on the importance of digital marketing. In affiliation with the IAB Tech Lab, it develops technical standards and best practices. IAB and the IAB Education Foundation are committed to professional development and elevating the knowledge, skills, expertise, and diversity of the workforce across the industry. Through the work of its public policy office in Washington, D.C., IAB advocates for its members and promotes the value of the interactive advertising industry to legislators and policymakers. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City and has a San Francisco office.


IAB Media
Laura Goldberg


IAB Media
Laura Goldberg