Yeti Coolers – A Brand as Powerful as a Bear

YETI Coolers LLC: Brothers tout their ice chests’ design and d

I mean really, OMG!

You can’t tell me that smart branding doesn’t create just amazing results.

I’ve got two words…

Yeti Coolers.

Let’s make that two words and an amount….

Yeti Coolers. Average price: $350.

And they are selling like crazy – recently earning a spot on the prestigious list of Inc. magazine’s fastest growing companies.

Haven’t heard of Yeti? Well, Yeti was started in 2006 by two brothers – Roy and Ryan Seiders – who wanted to build a better cooler. Yeah, a cooler. The plastic household necessity that has a place (usually in the basement or tool shed) of virtually all American homes. And, the former undisputed “brand kings” in the cooler category – your Coleman®, your Igloo® and your Rubbermaid® coolers – have for years stood at the top of the molded plastic heap, annually cranking slight variations of styles and sizes of these portable refrigeration gems for an average price tag of $40 or so.

Sleepy category. Dominated by big brand giants.

How would anyone get into this oligopoly of a category? Especially with a significantly higher price tag.

Well the Seiders brothers have done it in a really big way.

First, they built a really awesome cooler. The Yeti quality is unbelievable – durable, dependable latches, and an air tight environment that will keep ice frozen, drinks cold, and meat and fish hard as icebergs for days on end.

Jeep on Yeti Coolers

Then, this is the part that fires me up, the brothers employed a strategic brand strategy that was laser-focused on a very specific kind of consumer – the avid hunter and fisherman. Their goals may have been broader but they started with a very specific target. (“If you try and talk to ‘everyone, you will connect with no one.”)

This avid outdoorsman group has a very distinct type of mindset – passionate and very committed to their sport and the outdoors. This group is set apart in their kind of no-nonsense independence (They know quality and they don’t need someone to preach it to them.)

Now, just as in the beginning, Yeti’s brand focus has been laser-focused on this specific mindset.

  1. From the outset, Yeti focused distribution on specialty stores – gun shops and fishing outfitters. Yeti wouldn’t be caught dead in the major big-box stores.
  2. To get the word out about Yeti, the brothers gave these coolers to the leading game hunters and serious saltwater fishermen. Guess what? Real outdoor experts were suddenly talking Yeti on social media. (“People believe people.”)
  3. Yeti’s marketing messages were simple, on target, and consistent – i.e. ”built for the wild and grizzly-proof.” All very motivating, relevant messaging for their audience.

The Seiders brothers were crystal clear in their words and actions – Yeti coolers were for the serious outdoor enthusiast. (This is “What we stand for.” This is “Why we exist.”)

And it certainly worked. Yeti, as a brand, became so connected with the outdoor enthusiast that…guess what…these enthusiasts became avid and inspired Yeti “salesmen.” Now, this group would never say that they were salesmen, but that’s what they are. Because, at every opportune moment they expose the benefits of Yeti and how terrific their coolers are.

That’s how great marketing works today. Peer-to-peer communication is the Holy Grail.

So, despite their “hunter/fisherman focus,” after some time, Yeti started showing up in the more mainstream venues such as college football tailgates. And, the gleaming white Yeti coolers came on display behind bars at really nice, coat and tie cocktail parties.

In fact, Yeti coolers have now become a high end “brand badge.” Having any other cooler these days is, well, not cool.

Yep, these are two smart branding brothers.

I love great brand stories like this.

Think I’ll pop open a really, really cold one and think about what the Coleman®, Igloo®, and Rubbermaid® folks may be up to today. No doubt, these former cooler kings are “kicking the plastic around” and trying to figure out how to sell a dang $350 cooler.





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