By Mylena Vazquez
To say that the coolers company Yeti has high brand equity is an understatement. In reality, what it has is brand loyalty that is more like a cult-like following.
Just picture someone wearing a Thermos-branded hat as a fashion statement. It’s hard to imagine, right? Yet Yeti customers proudly wear Yeti baseball caps, plaster their trucks with Yeti stickers, and show their loyalty to both brand and country by wearing American flag Yeti branded t-shirts.
In terms of its coolers, Yeti has also experienced a certain degree of genericization, whereby its brand name has come to replace the name of the product. At many family events, I’ve been welcomed with a casual, “Drinks are in the Yeti.” Though the company’s products haven’t reached the level of, say, Thermos, it is still an amazing feat for a company that was founded in just 2006.
The fact that Yeti is such a young company also makes its revenues all the more impressive. In 2021, Yeti generated a revenue of $1.412 billion in 2021. For a company whose product range is essentially limited to coolers, insulated drinkware, and branded merchandise, this is huge. For reference, Yeti’s primary competitors in the coolers category in terms of sales volume, Coleman and Igloo, brought in annual revenues of just $550 million and $350 million, respectively.
But what is it that sets Yeti apart from its competitors? Competitors’ products are rated just as highly, if not higher, than Yeti’s products, so it’s not a question of product quality but a question of perceived product quality. Consumers associate Yeti with being of the highest quality, even if their products are just as good as the rest. This perception serves Yeti’s pricing strategy well. While Coleman and Igloo coolers are moderately priced ($50-$100), Yeti coolers clock in at $250-$800.
To consumers, owning a Yeti cooler has become about more than just about owning a high quality product. It has become a symbol of status, luxury, refined ruggedness—something aspirational. It has surpassed the level of mere product, and it has done so because of Yeti’s strong brand identity and brand equity.
Have you ever had to choose between two high-quality products, one utilitarian and one whose brand stood for something aspirational? Which did you choose?