Image protection

The expansion of the program could give Yeti a boost in awareness beyond its core following. Since going public in 2018, the company’s name recognition has increased from 10% to 17% in the U.S., which in part indicates it is still a relatively young brand, according to William Blair Equity Research Analyst Sharon Zackfia.

The Austin, Texas-based brand has prioritized “being protective of the long-term brand that they’re building,” Zackfia said. 

This long-game approach can also be seen in how the company has cut back wholesale distribution at stores such as Lowe’s, where it recently began winding down its relationship, according to a February earnings call. “We reduced our independent wholesale footprint to approximately 3,000 target accounts, which we believe helps focus our efforts on very high caliber retail to drive consistent, high-quality experiences for our customers,” Reintjes said on the call.

Zackfia described this as a move to protect the company’s long-term image, despite the short-term revenue loss. “If you’re going to have a premium product, you want to control where that product shows up,” she said. For example, “if it shows up at a non-prestige retailer for 30% off, (that) could have damaging ramifications” and affect the brand’s prestige image.

The brand’s competitors include brands such as Igloo, RTIC Coolers, OtterBox and Hydro Flask. RTIC coolers has positioned itself as the cheaper alternative to Yeti, with an almost identical origin story (two brothers in Texas) and going so far as to make products that look like replicas of Yeti products. The brand makes a cooler that’s around $100 less than the cost of Yeti’s.

Yeti’s products now range from coolers to hats and bags to bottle openers. The brand released new products this spring that included smaller versions of its carryall and new colors such as bright pink. 

Yeti has also branched out onto TikTok. The brand has 280,000 followers and 2.2 million likes on the platform.

“We’re not a natural fit (for TikTok) but we’ve found our place there,” said Dery. This includes posting videos showing how to stock a cooler and instances in which its products have survived fires with ice still inside, as well as making jokey replies to videos of people showing how much Yeti merch they have, said Dery.

By AKDSEO