District entrepreneur Andrew Isen has revived his business distributing discounts on products and services aimed at wealthy gay men, but this time around DirectMale has taken an entirely digital approach.
DirectMale debuted in 1992 with packets of coupons that were sent to households via snail mail, but that business fizzled out in 2004. Now it’s back in the form of a Web site with online vouchers for apparel, skin care products and travel, among other items.
“When I looked at the success of Groupon and the success of LivingSocial, although their models are different, they’re online with offers that are irresistible [and] I said, ‘I did this 20 years ago’,” Isen said.
“We decided to translate that success into the digital world of today.”
So how does the company differ from discount purveyors like D.C.-based LivingSocial? For one, it’s not daily. The deals are made available for an extended period of time. Secondly, they aren’t local. The firm works with national retailers to offer deals with broad appeal.
The company also exclusively targets an audience that Isen describes as “the discerning gay male,” which he defines as well-educated 25 to 45 year olds with disposable income and a penchant for travel.
Initial deals on the site include a custom suit from Banks & Ashby for $599, originally $1,775, and an eight-day foray to China for $1,979, valued at $3,200.
In addition to DirectMale, Isen helps major brands connect with gay consumers through his District-based consultancy WinMark Concepts. Gay men make up a market segment known for having disposable income, but they also tend to be more responsive to community-specific advertising, he said.
“It’s always best to speak to a gay consumer in their own lexicon, both verbally and through imagery,” Isen said. “It will exponentially resonate the impact than running a generic or mainstream ad.”