Brands we love: YETI is blowing up a boring market
Is a $400 cooler a worthwhile investment? We could debate that forever. What’s not up for debate: YETI Coolers is king of the red-hot “super cooler” category. We’re talking heavy-duty, injected, rotomolded coolers — not your dad’s $50 Coleman.
I have a few theories on why this is the case, even with a host of competitors — like Pelican, Grizzly and Engel — challenging YETI for the throne:
YETI is just…cool
In my opinion, people gravitate to intangibly cool, confidence-inspiring products, even if its features are way more advanced than the average person actually needs. It feels like being part of a moment to have something cool, and people like to feel cool. (Any psychologist is free to challenge me on this assumption, but I’m right.)
Does a college sophomore studying political science really need the newest MacBook? Does the average millennial really need the performance attributes offered by high-end Patagonia jackets when a Gerry coat from Costco would technically work just fine? (Guilty.) Do any of us need a Hydro Flask when the Contigos and Nalgenes we’ve been getting from Big Five have worked just fine? The answer to all these questions is “no,” but these brands have that cool it and thus we send them our money.
YETI is bad-review-proof
Those who can afford a YETI but don’t need one buy it for the status symbol, and for people that actually need one, price isn’t an object. This makes it practically bad-review-proof. Think about it like this: the price itself is a marketing strategy.
It immediately deters people who have zero interest in this product category, who YETI probably doesn’t want as customers anyway. Those who are left are inherently going to “get” the value of the cooler, whether it’s a hunter or fisher who actually needs to keep things cold (value in the product) or a tailgater who wants to show off a little (value in the status the product provides).
This creates perfectly aligned expectations, which leads to product satisfaction, which leads to 5-star reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations. If it were cheaper, it probably wouldn’t have the features the hunter needed, and it would be more widely available, meaning it wouldn’t carry the status the tailgater is looking for.
YETI knows who it is
YETI doesn’t apologize for over-engineering its products — it takes pride in it, in a way that’s aspirational, but not elitist. By elevating stories of pros and customers who appreciate that level of quality, YETI is able to build a sense of community around a product that at a granular sense (it’s a cooler, after all) has no business having a community.
I also have to appreciate how YETI doesn’t dabble in low-end models of any of its products. This has helped them keep their brand untainted from catering to cheapness for the sake of expanding their audience.
YETI has an A+ website.
YETI avoids my number one e-commerce pet peeve: Not enough pictures of the product. Go to the product page for any YETI cooler and you’ll find a wealth of beautiful product imagery, clean and detailed macros, useful product specs (not just a list, but actual visuals!) and easy-to-find reviews.
Another things YETI kills it at is providing contextual clues for how the products “fits.” Whenever we’re shopping online, my wife is always looking for the lifestyle imagery, because “she wants to see how it looks on someone.” YETI does this in such a simple, functional and yet ingenious way with its “Choose Your Tundra Size” tool. You can use it through the hyper link above, or check out this screen recording above.
Bringing it all together
What’s my point in saying all this? When it came time for our creative team to update YETI’s content on ExpertVoice, it was clear: Like Ron Swanson, YETI “knows what it’s about, son,” so we didn’t feel the need to reinvent it. Some brands need our help with conveying who they are, but YETI didn’t; we just wanted to seamlessly support them with product education that’s as informative, bold and unapologetic as the brand is.