Will consumers make a pilgrimage to Yeti?

Discussion
Source: Yeti
Mar 02, 2017

Yeti, known for its heavy-duty drinking tumblers and ice chests, is earning wide praise for its new Austin flagship.

The 8,000-square-foot space on South Congress Avenue — its first store — offers many opportunities to purchase products, but is positioned more as a museum honoring hunters, fishermen and rugged outdoor experiences as well as the brand’s roots in Austin.

At the entrance is an eight-foot-tall taxidermied bear who was shot by Yeti brand ambassador Jim Shockey on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. Nearby is a barbecue smoker from the backyard of Franklin Barbecue founder Aaron Franklin, along with a placard detailing the legendary Austin pit master’s mission for smoked meat perfection.

A “Yeti Vs.” video exhibit shows coolers being dropped from significant heights, set on fire and exploded. Visitors will also find a boat in muddy waters surrounded by fish and crabs, half a pickup truck and neon signs from Austin artist Evan Voyles. A bar and a stage will support regular events including concerts, screenings and workshops.

“It’s meant to be much more of an immersive Yeti experience — it’s our version of Disneyland — than it is to be a transactional space,” Corey Maynard, Yeti’s vice president of marketing, told Fast Company. “Yes, we’re selling coolers, and you can get drinkware and shirts and hats and stuff, but it was much more important to us that people could have fun with the Yeti brand and see it brought to life.”

Founded in 2005, Yeti has become a lifestyle brand. Fans are willing to splurge between $350 to $500 for one of its coolers. While Nike, Patagonia, North Face and others have opened a number of showcase locations in urban centers to connect with consumers, Yeti has no plans to open other stores.

As new brands use digital communication to define their relationships with consumers, the Yeti flagship demonstrates the need for something physical. Debra Zahay-Blatz, professor of marketing at Austin’s St. Edwards University, told INC., “Traditional retail is dying, so this kind of destination showroom is the wave of the future.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Would you commend Yeti for opening one “destination” showroom rather than rolling out showcase locations across the country? What lessons does the flagship offer retailers for connecting with digitally-driven consumers?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Today, customers don't have to go to stores, they have to WANT to go to stores. And who wouldn't want to go to that store?"
"It seems like an “attraction” based on location and not product or experience. Try that flagship in Chicago and see what happens."
"The prevailing mindset is that if one is a big hit, let’s build a whole bunch more. On occasion that works, as in the case of successful franchises."

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19 Comments on "Will consumers make a pilgrimage to Yeti?"


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Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest

Texas has demonstrated its love for larger-than-life attractions. SXSW, Nebraska Furniture Mart in Dallas and recently Yeti in Austin are a tribute to that culture. They reflect the attitudes of the area. This is above all what consumers expect from brands and they are showing their appreciation for it by naming these experiences as destinations.

Charles Dimov
Guest

You have to commend Yeti on creating an experience for which customers yearn. What a fantastic way to create a brand name that resonates. Having ONLY one destination showroom is a high risk, though. Even Disneyland has two locations in the U.S.!

Great idea to differentiate in retail. Create a SUPER experience that keeps customers coming back into your store. But Yeti needs to think about a more regional approach to capture the more casual shopper, too. A few regional destination showrooms will serve them well.

Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

I would love to have the luxury to create a destination retail environment but I happen to be trained as an engineer and the logic is lost on my pragmatic thought process. It seems Yeti would be better served by using its “treasure” to take its story to the community — not unlike Red Bull and Monster. Collecting, curating and globally publishing Yeti “lifestyle” stories from its customers/fans would provide better marketing and merchandising opportunities as well as connect to their digital community.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust
The prevailing mindset is that if one is a big hit, let’s build a whole bunch more. On occasion that works as in the case of successful franchises. But really this leads too easily to sheer greed. Remember that weed killer is just too much fertilizer. Rarity and uniqueness are immensely valuable, even more so in this age of replication and sameness in retail. If Yeti builds other destinations they should make them unique from each other as well. Take cars for example. I defy you to tell the visual difference between SUVs from different manufacturers. Back in the day, nothing else looked like a ’59 Chevy. Or my dream car the ’57 Belaire convertible. Can someone give me a witness? Yet just a few years ago, General Motors was almost destroyed by boredom. Today, unless you’re spending 100,000, they all look the same. And even then … I’d also like to challenge the assumptions behind the conclusion that consumers are “digitally driven.” That too is because they are bored and fed up with physical… Read more »
Ben Ball
Guest

“Or my dream car the ’57 Belaire convertible. Can someone give me a witness?”

Oh yeah! Mine was a ’56. My dad bought it from his brother-in-law’s dealership in ’55, right after I was born. He kept it for my first car. You can’t imagine how much I miss them both.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

I hear you my brother!

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

Yeti has hit on the key note of what physical retail will be in the future: a top flight, highly visible, limited quantity on-brand experience. Great job and really, pure fun. Remember, today, customers don’t have to go to stores, they have to WANT to go to stores. And who wouldn’t want to go to that store?

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

Exactly Lee! What retail, generally, has done is excuse its lack of creativity by claiming that consumers are “digitally driven.” What is amazing is that Yeti has made a destination out of a cooler! A cooler!

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff
Patricia Vekich Waldron
Contributing Editor, RetailWire; Founder and CEO, Vision First
5 years 2 months ago

Exactly, Lee! Yeti has created a store that people WANT to go to. Good on them!

Tom Redd
Guest

Great move and it shows the guts of the Texans … No logic needed on this move. It is how Cabela’s did it and Bass Pro. The first store of amazement opened and more will follow with more merchandise from logical vendors or co-retailers — there might be an REI in the next Yeti World or a BMW Motorad dual purpose bike section. Who knows — but getting creative in real life vs. a website is the new direction for retail.

Ben Ball
Guest

I was just about to chime in with the “this is how Bass Pro started in St. Louis … ” when I hit your post, Tom. It’s still a destination for sportsmen, as is the Cabela’s store in Sydney, Nebraska and the L.L.Bean store in Freeport. Yeti has established itself as the “Kleenex” of high-performance coolers in a record short time. So much so that I refer to my Cabela’s model of the same cooler (better performance ratings and $150 easier on my wallet) as a “Cabeti.”

Anne Howe
Guest

I think of Yeti as an iconic brand since they have a definitive mindset appeal. Even I, who still uses a perfectly wonderful 40 year old classic red Coleman, would go to the that Yeti center in Austin to see how the they put forward the brand experience! I believe a one-off kick-a** experience center is way more effective than “showrooms.” Give me a place I can feel, engage with and get a story in my head about the brand.

I can hear that country song already, “gonna buy me a boat” with a “Yeti iced down … “

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

Bold move in creating a customer experience that transcends the digital space in which Yeti and others compete. It allows the company to showcase its advantages, particularly as they relate to the price alternatives like RTIC. I like the idea of a “one-off” destination showcase unless the company could replicate the showrooms of Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops. Probably not enough product offerings to match Cabela’s or Bass, but it could be a “store-within-a-store” concept for either of these showroom giants.

J. Peter Deeb
Guest

Yeti has hit a marketing home run with this store! BUT this is a limited campaign that will probably work only in regional locations where hunting, fishing and boating have great consumer penetration. A better use of the idea may be to feature all the activities that occur in the retail store in a digital campaign.

Dave Nixon
Guest
Dave Nixon
Retail Solutions Executive, Teradata
5 years 2 months ago

It seems like an “attraction” based on location and not product or experience. Try that flagship in Chicago and see what happens.

Yeti would do well to develop a feature-rich store-within-a store (or pop-up store) like in an REI or Cabela’s where that demographic already buys. Yeti is a great brand with high-quality products, and highly fashionable right now, but for how long? If they increased their footprint by being more flexible and nimble and lighter-weight, rather than through a flagship, this run could last longer and actually settle in as a premium long-term brand at scale.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust
Ricardo Belmar
Retail Transformation Thought Leader, Advisor, & Strategist
5 years 2 months ago

This is more about establishing and leveraging the emotional connection between a brand and their customer than it is about physical retail and the shopping experience. Whether you are a product brand (manufacturer) or a retailer selling many other brands, you need to make that emotional connection to your customer to keep them wanting more. The key is clearly in being creative on an ongoing basis. And it isn’t about how many stores or experiences you have, it’s about having the one great experience your customers want to repeat over and over and tell their friends and family about. That’s true whether it’s a digitally-driven online experience or a physical in-store experience.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

I wish them well, but I’d wager their being mentioned in Chris Janson’s song “Buy Me a Boat” and by implication other acts of product placement (whether paid for or not) will ultimately bring in about one-fifth gazillion more business than this. The “flagship” isn’t very big, probably few people outside of Austin know about it, and it’s going up against the many Bass Pro Shops around the country … awesome in their own right.

Min-Jee Hwang
Guest

Yeti has done well to create quality products with an impressive brand image worthy of the price paid. If their customers are willing to splurge that much on their products, I don’t see why they wouldn’t give the flagship store a visit. The store doesn’t even focus on selling the products but instead caters to the rugged outdoor adventurers that are their target market. I wouldn’t say people would go to Austin specifically just to visit but if they’re in the area, it would definitely be a spot to stop by. I know I would.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
5 years 2 months ago

Most brands that open stores start with a flagship location. So although Yeti suggests they won’t go further (I wouldn’t expect them to commit to a stream of stores until they see if this one does well), my guess is that they will … depending on results from this store.

Where I’m skeptical is their long term. They have interesting products that surprised the market and have built strength at retail. But they seem to be quite vulnerable to someone else coming into the market with a gimmick and knocking them off.

I’m also always skeptical when companies make too much of being a “lifestyle brand.” They’ve succeeded by making high quality products that dedicated outdoors people like and that’s trickled down into the broad market as it built distribution. But lifestyle brand? That too often ends up sounding like (and actually being) “we have always made really great quality products that are superb at there job, but in the future we are only going to focus on style.”

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Today, customers don't have to go to stores, they have to WANT to go to stores. And who wouldn't want to go to that store?"
"It seems like an “attraction” based on location and not product or experience. Try that flagship in Chicago and see what happens."
"The prevailing mindset is that if one is a big hit, let’s build a whole bunch more. On occasion that works, as in the case of successful franchises."

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