Case Study

How City Bonfires Rapidly Grew its Brand through Photo-First Product Reviews

City Bonfires, a Shopify Plus store, is one of the fastest-growing eCommerce brands to have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic. Their story is one of clever entrepreneurship, grit, and a deep understanding of how to leverage social proof marketing to enhance their customer experience and drive high-converting traffic.


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About City Bonfires:

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” (or a reusable bonfire in this case). City Bonfires founders and Maryland natives, Chris McCasland and Michael Opalski, perfectly represent this phrase. When COVID-19 struck the globe, both of their careers were unfortunately impacted. Yet while lockdown had much of the world occupied by Netflix, yoga in the living room, at-home schooling, and/or complete boredom, Chris was eagerly following the rise in eCommerce and thinking of unique product ideas.

After experimentation and research he came up with City Bonfires- a portable, reusable mini bonfire that customers can take on all of your outdoor adventures. His next step, enlisting the help of his good friend Mike who came up with the design of the product. With just the strike of a match or flick of a lighter, customers can turn the entire surface of this small soy wax tin into a bonfire. 

Handmade in Maryland and shipped across the USA and Canada, City Bonfires has created a whole new experience for those exploring the outdoors or sitting out on their balcony/porch. From CNBC and the Today Show to yahoo! and Bloomberg, some of the largest news channels have covered their impressive, rapid growth. Read on to learn how Loox has been part of their splendid success. 

Goal: Obtain Authentic Customer Reviews Quickly 

As a new brand that had only just launched in August 2020, City Bonfires needed to obtain customer reviews rapidly and efficiently. From the outset, they understood that customer reviews are essential for building trust and improving conversion rates. In addition they were seeking crucial customer feedback early in their product launch. But beyond the fundamental importance of customer reviews, they were in need of authentic customer photos of their product. Why? City Bonfires was a never before seen product. It was extremely important for the City Bonfires team to obtain photos of real customers using their product. This would enable them to create powerful marketing campaigns that highlight customer trust and usage. Internally, usage photos and reviews would allow the team to efficiently conduct Q&A and product updates. 

Solution: Loox’s Photo-Driven Reviews

Loox’s photo-first solution was the perfect match (see the pun we did there 😄)  for City Bonfire’s budding brand. In a matter of minutes, the team got set up with Loox and were able to automate their entire review request process via email. “Thanks to Loox's photo-first focus, we have a direct lens into how our customers use City Bonfires. The brand community is awesome! Their photos have inspired ideas for product add-ons plus partnership opportunities for corporate gifts,” shares Tiffany Anzalone McCaskand, the Head of Marketing at City Bonfires. 

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Beyond creating a photogenic brand community and product inspiration, Loox continues to have a significant impact on City Bonfires’ conversions and marketing campaigns. In total, since installing Loox in August 2020, City Bonfires has been able to generate  $130.7K in Loox-driven revenue. This means purchases that have been made through interactions with Loox’s product reviews, shared reviews on social, and discount codes. That’s pretty lit! Beyond conversion, Tiffany and the team are able to create more effective marketing campaigns with their authentic social proof. From brand awareness to loyalty-boosting email content, Tiffany is able to enhance her campaigns across the funnel with photo reviews. As a result she’s seen an improvement in CTR, conversion, and engagement with her initiatives.


Last, but definitely not least, Tiffany and the team were also able to quickly understand that some customers needed “a little helping hand” as to how to use their product. For example, City Bonfires is not a device to be used indoors, yet thanks to early photo reviews, the team saw that some customers were lighting their tin indoors. This pushed the team to instantly update safety warnings and product descriptions across their marketing channels to emphasize the “non-indoor use”.



Whether you are a completely new store or a veteran in your respective industry, City Bonfire’s story and use of social proof marketing is sure to serve as a source of inspiration. They’re an excellent example of how even the most unique stores/products can leverage happy customer content to drive trust and support rapid growth.  

Check out their Loox-supported ‘Happy Customers’ page to see how real customers review their product. 🔥


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