Will consumers make a pilgrimage to Yeti?
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.”
- Yeti Flagship
- Inside Yeti’s New and Unbelievably Cool(er) Flagship Store – INC.
- Instead of a Retail Flagship Store, Yeti Decided to Build A Brand Museum. Here’s Why. – Fast Company
- Yeti Coolers unveils first store: A brand temple on border of new, old Austin – Austin Business Journal
- Austin-based Yeti unwraps flagship store on South Congress – Austin American Statesmen
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?