Carhartt is a 126-year-old family-owned company leading US producer of workwear. Carhartt consistently produces jeans, jackets, overalls, coveralls, and several other items favored by people in the farming and construction industry. However, it wasn’t till the 1990s that workwear became fashionable pieces. This popularity was due to famous rap music artists and bands wearing Carhartt clothes. Despite the new broader appeal, Carhartt views the American worker as their most significant customer. The American worker always preferred Carhartt clothes because of their durability and high-quality products.
Carhartt has built trust with its customers with over a century worth of service. The trust isn’t only because of its quality products but because the brand can engage with consumers through Carhartt advertising strategies. This article gives you a swift peek into the brand’s history as well as the top strategies that have kept this band going for more than a century. Now that you know what to expect let’s take a look.
Carhartt Advertising – Early History
The founder of Carhartt, Hamilton Carhartt, was born in New York in 1855. However, he was raised in Wisconsin and Michigan, where his father was a surgeon and physician. Although Hamilton’s family was focused more on learned professions, he was more inclined towards commercial pursuits. Hamilton first left school in 1882 to gain entry into the furniture business. He started in Grand Rapids and then moved to Detroit in 1884. At this point, he created a furniture business under his name. However, in 1889, he converted the business into a brand exclusively producing manufacturing apparel for working men. His first products from his rebranded company were overalls made with tightly woven cotton fabric and denim fabrics. They were for men working on and building railroads, and it was a success.
Afterward, the brand launched a mill in Walkerville that focused on manufacturing gloves for working men. Soon afterward, he launched a new plant in Paris and opened a warehouse and office in New York City. All the subsidiaries focused on creating young men working apparel. The company consistently produced workwear, shoes, overalls, shirts, pants, and shoes.
The Economic Downturn
We cannot talk about Carhartt's advertising strategy without mentioning how the brand could survive the 1920s-30s economic downturns. The Cotton Depression in the 1920 and the Great Depression of the 30s led to Carhartt losing almost all its locations. The few that remained were Dallas, Atlanta, and Detroit. The workwear company also sold off their rights in Texas, Southern California, Canada, Europe, and most Southern States in the US. At this period, Hamilton tried launching a sportswear line and failed.
With help from the Irvine residents in Kentucky, Carhartt completed a new place at the beginning of 1932. The new plant had only 20 employees when he opened it, and in 1937, an automobile accident killed Hamilton Carhartt, and his son Wylie Carhartt took control of the brand. Despite the economic downturn that rocked the Carhartt brand, it maintained its reputation for producing quality clothing. The brand maintained this reputation by utilizing heavyweight cotton duck for most of its products. The materials it used offered durability and strength to the clothing. Additionally, it ensured the outfits were wind and snag resistant.
Each product from Carhartt had triple chain stitching that helped to lock its seam in place and prevent it from pulling apart. They also improved the fabric’s strength using double full yarn. This technique was when two yarns were twisted together and utilized as one.
Carhartt Advertising – Keeping the Business in the Family
This brand has continued to thrive in the Carhartt family for many generations. Wylie Carhartt’s successor was his son-in-law Robert Valade in 1959. Robert started his career at Carhartt in 1949 before becoming the company’s head. In the 1960s, the brand enjoyed large profits from its chain store sales. At this point, the company repurchased selling rights in territories hard to sell off in the 1930s. Under Robert Valade, Carhartt grew from $2 million to over $300 million in the mid-90s.
The brand also made some acquisitions in 1960, like the W.M. Finck & Co. of Detroit, which was an overalls manufacturer. After this acquisition, the company started selling some of its wear under Carhartt Headlight and Finck. The company also acquired another company in Georgia that allowed the company to sell wears in the South again.
Carhartt Advertising Strategies
Although Carhartt has won the heart of many American workers by providing durable, top-quality products, many factors contribute to its success. Carhartt’s advertising strategies are the top reasons for the brand’s growth globally. This section will explore top Carhartt advertising strategies that have ensured its success for many years.
Carhartt and a Well-Defined Audience
One of the essential parts of a successful brand is a well-defined audience. Defining your target audience is key to a successful advertising strategy. Carhartt's advertising strategies are a success today because they successfully represented its target audience. Carhartt makes products for railroad workers, stable workers, plumbers, blacksmiths, industrial workers, construction workers, and so much more. Their target audience is blue-collar workers. Their vast target audience doesn’t make the brand an average brand. Instead, it has created a place in North America that very few people in the country can claim to have not seen the Carhartt logo.
The brand successfully created a tribe of blue-collar workers who wear strong, long-lasting, durable clothes. In Carhartt’s campaign, the strong feature of the cloth represents the rugged personality of the workers. Wearing a Carhartt allows you automatically become part of a tribe and can lead to conversations between strangers. This works in Carhartt’s favour as tribes lead to sales, solidifying a brand. However, creating a tribe is the start of a vicious cycle and is a part of the effective Carhartt advertising strategies implemented in the brand.
Leveraging Data to Drive Traffic
Additionally, another Carhartt advertising strategy is leveraging its robust database to drive retail traffic. The brand has successfully grown an extensive consumer database over the years. It uses this database to target past purchasers and inform them that there are new stores around them they can visit to enjoy the Carhartt experience. Most online buyers are the focus of this advertising strategy. The database helps the brand fully understand the right market to enter to serve their customers better. It allows the brand to focus its efforts on markets where its purchases come from. The brand leverages this data through this database on social media platforms, creating awareness and traffic into their stores.
Creating a balance between increasing store sales and wholesales is paramount. Carhartt was built through a successful working relationship with its wholesale partners. The brand uses a merchandising team to handle its sales through the social media platform. This team makes inventory purchases, figures out the assortment strategy, and tracks the flow of goods. Successfully, through this Carhartt advertising strategy, the brand can increase sales in their retail stores while also maintaining their existing wholesale business.
Carhartt Advertising – Creating a Forum for Engagement
One top Carhartt advertising strategy that’s prominent and is a key to the company’s growth is its creation of a forum for engagement. The brand has a YouTube channel, blog, Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter account that ensure an entire social presence. The goal behind a solid social media presence is to ensure consumer engagement to foster loyalty to the brand. The brand does this by sharing stories, company news, surveys to get product feedback, and so much more. This Carhartt advertising strategy comes to play in the brand’s use of its Facebook page to publicize the opening of new stores.
In the case of the Wicker Park store, the brand targeted consumers in the Chicago area. Through their Facebook page, Carhartt informed residents about the store vacancy while also seeking ideas on engaging with the Chicago community directly. Carhartt advertising strategy doesn’t focus on modern methods like print media and others. Instead, it advertises by word of mouth, which covers sharing stories. With over a century’s impact on the blue-collar working class, the brand recognizes that many of their customers have a story about their products.
The brand’s legacies are these stories about how they’re built and how they last so long. Therefore, it uses Facebook to create this forum to share its common beliefs and strategies. Other people can then read this story and understand them. The company doesn’t necessarily view social media as a sales driver. Instead, its advertising strategy on this platform focuses on helping consumers engage with and embrace the Carhartt brand.
Exploring New Demographics
For years, the perception that Carhartt is a brand primarily for men has stood firm. However, one of Carhartt advertising strategies is changing that perception. The brand views women as a part of its target audience. The brand is continually advertising its election of products for females to support this. There are several campaigns targeted at conveying this message to its consumers. The company recognizes that this is a generation of doers, and some women are artisans, craftspeople, and tradespeople. Therefore, the company continues to become a larger company with a retention strategy. Its effort focuses on attracting the female gender into its brand. Carhartt advertising strategy is promoting an all-inclusive brand to the world and, through those efforts, widening its customer base.
Carhartt continually invests its time, money, and resources into building the brand globally. As a result, the Carhartt brand continues to be one of the top leading brands in the workwear industry. Despite the industry’s competitive landscape, Carhartt's advertising strategies allow it to remain a top brand. The brand successfully cultivated loyalty in its customers over the years and will enable the qualities of the clothes to reflect the wearer’s quality as well. To create a better understanding, this article explores the marketing strategies of Carhartt that make it a top brand that continues to thrive amid emerging brands.
As the brand continues to evolve, it can meet the changing needs of its loyal customer base. This way, the brand stays true to what it stands for, a commitment to quality. It can also stay connected to consumers with new strands and an inclusive advertising strategy that drives growth, opens new demographics to the brand, and drives sales.