Highlights

  • Patagonia’s dedication to quality requires a comprehensive and rigorous field testing program with dozens of testers and designers.

  • Attempting to run a collaboration program like this via email caused enormous logistical concerns.

  • Implementing a Vanilla Forum as an internal community allowed Patagonia to eliminate logistical strain and focus on what matters to them: creating the world’s best outdoor clothing.

“The hassle with email is having to store, archive and remember to share with all appropriate parties. […] The community eliminates the need to keep an email trail of tester feedback.”

-Walker Ferguson,
Lead Field Tester

The Problem

As a leading manufacturer of outdoor clothing, Patagonia relies heavily on the skill and dedication of their field testing team. Their mandate is to rigorously test all their potential products in real life outdoor conditions. Field testing lead Walker Ferguson is responsible for collecting knowledge from gathering feedback from ambassadors and testers in the field and sharing it with the design teams. This feedback is used to make decisions on whether to keep, improve or drop products. Patagonia’s brand promises product excellence, so thoroughly researching these products is crucial.

This was a task that was running entirely through email, with Walker copy-pasting to various teams to ensure that all feedback got to the right place. The amount of time wasted on triage for these groups was a huge resource drain for Patagonia.

“The hassle with email is having to store, archive and remember to share with all appropriate parties. It’s hard to remember to CC everyone all the time!”, shared Walker. “The community eliminates the need to keep an email trail of tester feedback.”

The Solution

  • A private online community, accessible only to dedicated employees and brand ambassadors where test results are shared in real time.
  • Easy to use for the Field Testers to share pictures and videos anytime, anywhere of the items standing up to wear and tear.
  • Easy for the rest of the organization to review testing results and make quick decisions on modifications and go-to-market.
“Everyone from advanced product development to sales benefit from the feedback gathered. It gives everyone the ability to stand behind what they are making and selling.”

The Result

After implementing a Vanilla Forum, Patagonia’s field testing program immediately became easier to manage. The ability for all members of the testing teams to share their feedback quickly and vastly increased the efficiency of the testing program. With communications streamlined, Walker was no longer tied to the basic logistics of keeping the program running and was able to concentrate his efforts on more important matters.

Walker added: “Marketing uses the feedback collected through our field testing community  and looks through the comments for stories to use. I feel like everyone from advanced product development to sales benefit from the feedback gathered. It gives everyone the ability to stand behind what they are making and selling.”

About Patagonia

Founded by Yvon Chouinard in 1973, Patagonia is an outdoor apparel company based in Ventura, California. A certified B-Corporation, Patagonia’s mission is to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. The company is recognized internationally for its commitment to authentic product quality and environmental activism, contributing over $68 million in grants and in-kind donations to date.

Visit: http://www.patagonia.com/