LOS ANGELES: Carhartt, the workwear and apparel manufacturer, has found user-generated content to be an extremely effective tool in building its brand and encouraging purchases.

Anna Cole, Carhartt’s Director of e-Commerce Operations, User Experience and Merchandising, discussed this topic at the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Shop.org Conference.

More specifically, she reported that customer comments on its products have a powerful role in convincing potential shoppers about the brand’s claims regarding the quality and durability of its goods.

“Who are you going to believe? The manufacturer who says, ‘This is the best coat ever and it’s never going to wear out’?” she asked. (For more details, read WARC’s in-depth report: Why Carhartt values voices of hard-nosed customers.)

“Or are you going to believe the farmer down the road who’s talking about how he’s had it for ten years and it’s still going strong?”

Carhartt began posting consumer reviews in 2008. “We started out just with some ratings and reviews that sat on our product detail page,” said Cole. “You bought something and we asked you for a review, and that’s kind of where it ended.”

Since then, it has taken several steps to expand its activity in this area. “If you look,” Cole said, “you can see it’s really throughout the whole consumer journey, from discovery to use of the product.

“We still have ratings and reviews. We have questions and answers … and it’s community-based, so not only is our customer-service team answering, but it’s also a way to re-engage those who have purchased that product and get them engaged in the community.

“And then, visually, we have consumers who are incredibly passionate. And you’re going to see that they send us great photos, and it allows us to showcase that.”

Coupled with organic feedback from customers, the brand has identified various effective ways to motivate people to participate in such an activity – such as by enabling them to do so while remaining in their preferred email service.

“Just by doing that simple act of keeping you within the inbox, of keeping it in the easy-to-understand format, we saw a 75% increase in review submissions,” said Cole.

Data sourced from WARC