Ariat Case Study

Ariat: 12 years of building brand advocacy

What better way to understand the impact of customer advocacy than by looking at a brand whose been doing it for years? Ariat International, a performance footwear and apparel brand, partnered with ExpertVoice way back in 2010 to initiate an advocacy program that would build brand awareness and stand the test of time. 

Expanding Ariat advocacy over the years


A new breed of boot brand 

In 1993 Beth Cross and Pam Parker broke into the boot industry with the Ariat brand. The women-led company was looking to revolutionize riding boots—with a focus on technology and usability— taking an age-old industry by storm with new-age approaches. 


Ariat partners with ExpertVoice

Ariat kicked off its partnership with Expertvoice to reach more retail sales associates and efficiently educate them on the Ariat story at scale. The goal was to equip the most people possible with immersive training and product experience. And it worked.

"Uniquely, our brand is technologically driven. 12 years ago, we were really still the only people in the Western boot space that had technology in their footwear. We had a really unique story to tell, we wanted to tell it, and in turn, of course, wanted the retail associates to share it with their consumers.”

Cristina Strunk
Cristina Strunk
Ariat Director of Merchandising

Their team wanted to give the people on the floor a sneak peek behind the Ariat brand curtain. By cultivating a community of brand insiders with ExpertVoice Retail Advocacy, Ariat was able to connect with an unprecedented number of retail sales associates, equip them with in-depth product and brand knowledge, and build intimate relationships with the people who persuade buying decisions the most. In true Ariat fashion, they go the extra mile by surprising engaged associates they’ve connected with via ExpertVoice with thank you cards, tokens of appreciation, and even the occasional pizza party—complete with guest appearances from members of Ariat’s advocacy team themselves. 

ExpertVoice provides an accessible foundational knowledge of our brand to all of our retail partners, giving quick and informative technology training. That allows us to engage with the store employees in a more meaningful way.

Cristina Strunk

Ariat Director of Merchandising

Retail sales associate engaged


Retail sales associate engaged


Expanding their footprint

In 2016 Ariat was looking to bring its boot momentum into the apparel space. After successfully building a foundation for advocacy with their footwear at retail, they doubled down on their strategy. By replicating the model to build advocacy for their newly launched apparel line to expand recognition beyond retail — this time with professionals across the board. From equestrian athletes to ranch hands to construction site workers, Ariat was able to connect with people who would put their products to the test and talk about them out in the real world. 

With this expansion, their ExpertVoice audience of industry professionals grew, and their team saw major results. Engagement jumped 175% from 2016 to 2017—educating an additional 40k brand advocates in just one year. 

Brand education engagement:


Brand education engagement:


Boosting brand advocacy with UGC

In an industry built on handshakes rather than Instagram likes—Ariat was on the cutting edge of social content usage. They never lost sight of the benefit of building personal connections with their most loyal customers but wanted to see the impact that could make when done in a digital setting. 

Inside the ExpertVoice platform, members can upload images and tag the brands that made their experience possible. Ariat was an early adopter, understanding the value of authentic, original content from real people. After all, 85% of consumers find UGC more influential than any form of brand content. Their advocacy team prioritized collecting and encouraging UGC. To inspire social posting, they always engage with experts who tag their brand. Making their key customers feel like insiders they are. 


The social content guides our ability to know who genuinely loves our brand. We learn so much from their feedback. We also appreciate having the ability to surprise and delight through acknowledgment and small gifts.” 

Cristina Strunk

Ariat Director of Merchandising

User-generated content from Ariat customers:


User-generated content from Ariat customers:


Launch of E-Commerce Advocacy

Ariat’s advocacy initiative leveled up again by adding E-Commerce Advocacy to their tool belt. After implementing a Product Catalog on ExpertVoice, they saw a huge jump in product reviews. These aren’t just any run-of-the-mill 5-star ratings, they come from expert users, retail sales associates and industry pros. Wowed by the caliber of reviews they were receiving, the next step was to supplement their existing stream of customer reviews on their own sites with the ones sourced on ExpertVoice. 

By using ExpertVoice’s integration with BazaarVoice, Ariat was able to get expert product reviews in front of more people using the tools their team was already familiar with. The result was a considerable increase in product reviews on e-commerce pages and a deeper understanding of what kinds of customer reviews really guide purchase decisions. 


We are so excited to see the impact that product recommendations from ExpertVoice users make, that then merge across many of our .com partners. The content from Experts is proven to be more informative towards guiding a consumer's decision!”

Cristina Strunk

Ariat Director of Merchandising

Product recommendations over time:


Product recommendations over time:


A foothold for the future

Ariat is playing the advocacy long game. Their team understands that building a long-term strategy results in big returns. By connecting with their existing consumer base, the people putting their products to the test every day—sporting their boots on horseback, their work jeans to the job site or their everyday apparel during their downtime—they were able to make the connection with the people whose opinions matter most. Fostering relationships with influential industry experts to yes, build advocacy in stores and online, but so much more than just that. They’re laying the foundation that will grow the community of Ariat loyalists for years to come.



Don’t leave product recommendations and UGC to chance.