How do we connect women to the leader in male workwear?
Carhartt Brand Positioning
Independent Study is a semester-long, individual project. Each student is responsible for securing a client and working with them to solve a business problem. I partnered with Carhartt, a legacy workwear brand, to help them better connect with their female audience.
SITUATION: Carhartt began making workwear for women in 1996, 107 years after the brand was founded.
INSIGHT: Women embraced Carhartt before there were products made for them.
PROBLEM: 67% of working women are not loyal to the women’s line.
OPPORTUNITY: Grow the connection women have with the brand by putting their hard work at the core of the clothes we provide them.
POSITIONING: Workwear as tough as the women who wear it.
STRATEGY: Prove it.
Carhartt is the original workwear brand, founded in 1889 to serve and protect hardworking people. For over 130 years, the brand has succeeded by making highly durable workwear and embodying a spirit of hard work.
In 1996, Carhartt began making workwear for women. In contrast to the men’s clothing, Carhartt for Women focuses strongly on casual, soft goods (t-shirts, hoodies, and long sleeves), and of course a lot of color.
Working women have always needed durable work wear too,
“I was a welder and ironworker for 25+ years. Carhartts last the longest!”
“I credit my Carhartt bibs with saving my life.”
Working women are the spirit of hard work.
“Women put so much at stake to pursue a career off the beaten path.”
“Women are resilient. We work harder because we often have to."
Hardworking women are tough and resilient and need products to match.
67% of working women are not loyal to the Carhartt for Women’s line because it is not leveling up to their functional needs the way the men’s clothes have for years.
“My men’s duck pants are enormous on me, but they have big pockets and are resistant to abuse”
Grow the emotional connection Carhartt already has with these women by putting their functional needs first.
Put their hard work at the core of the products we provide them.
Prove it. Prove to hard working women that Carhartt respects them and their work.
FULFILL YOUR PROMISE
Goal: Better serve hardworking women by meeting their functional needs.
Phase 1: Identify small wins to level up with the men’s line. Through consumer research I identified four key pain points that made women more loyal to the men’s workwear.
FIT: “I want pants that are cut for women”
DURABILITY: “I have the original crawford women’s pants. The material is thin and mine have holes within a month of owning them”
FEATURES: “We need the same enormous pockets as the men’s”
SELECTION: “Women need just as many options as men. And they need to be just as durable.”
Phase 2: Design and test with her. Carhartt has relationships with a diverse range of hardworking women across various careers and locations. I saw an opportunity to close the gap between R+D in Detroit and the women Carhartt serves across the country. Through co-creation, Carhartt can bring these women into the design process to create products that fit them and their work.
SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION
Goal: Celebrate the unsung hero.
After meeting their functional needs, Carhartt has permission to celebrate the women that have been with the brand since the beginning. The brand’s 130th Anniversary is an opportunity to recognize women that have been getting the job done for centuries.
CONTINUE THE LEGACY
Goal: Educate and empower women in the trades.
Women make up only 9% of the skilled trade jobs in the US. One of the toughest barriers to recruiting women is that most don’t even consider trade work a possibility. In reality, becoming a tradeswoman can be personally and financially fulfilling, as they make 20-30% more than those working traditional female jobs.
Carhartt has the opportunity to show women the possibilities of a career in the trades.
Part of the Carhartt Institute would focus on exposing young girls to the opportunities in trades. The Basics of Building program would come to life in the form of after-school workshops, one-week long summer camps, and continuous mentorship throughout the year by successful tradeswomen in the area.
The second part of the Carhartt Institute would be for empowering women to choose a career in the trades. Building a Career would live through hands-on training, strong support from like-minded females, and Carhartt Certification to get a job and do the damn thing.
BRAND TAKEAWAY Hard working women are not only an opportunity for Carhartt, but the heart of everything they do and stand for. By putting the same toughness into the women’s clothes as the men’s, Carhartt will fulfill their mission of protecting hardworking people, male or female.
PERSONAL TAKEAWAY I grew up on a 200 acre farm in rural Virginia; where there was hard work in my life, there was Carhartt. This project gave me the opportunity to pay it forward to a brand that I have always respected.