When you spend much time outdoors, whether your passion is hunting, fishing, or something else, you need a cooler that can keep up. I’d know – last season, I spent hundreds of dollars replacing broken coolers that hadn’t lasted for more than a few trips.
Fortunately, I’m not alone. Ryan and Roy Seiders experienced the same frustration in 2006, creating YETI, a company specializing in durable outdoor equipment to keep things ice cold.
It’s no exaggeration to say YETI’s coolers are revolutionary for your average outdoorsman. But how successful has the company been in the broader context of the outdoor equipment market?
In 2020, experts valued this market at $22.41 billion. They expect the total revenue will grow at a rate of 3.6% between 2021 and 2027. This estimate may be low when you factor in the lasting impact of the global pandemic, which saw many people take up outdoor pursuits when indoor activities were restricted.
To answer the question I put forward above about YETI’s overall success, I have created this YETI competitors analysis that provides a comprehensive overview of the outdoor equipment market and the company’s place within its competitive landscape.
The Bottom Line Up Front
YETI is the leading manufacturer of durable coolers, and it has benefitted from exposure on social media from several famous people. As a result, the YETI brand has become a kind of status symbol – something none of its competitors has achieved.
In my opinion, the most impressive aspect of YETI’s business strategy is that the company has stayed true to its original values; despite celebrity endorsement, it hasn’t chosen to actively pursue this path, resulting in a strong sense of authenticity.
There are lots of other cooler companies out there, but only ORCA has achieved anywhere near the success of YETI.
List of YETI’s Main Competitors
- Igloo Products Corp
- Hydro Flask
- ORCA Coolers
- Bison Coolers
- Grizzly Coolers
YETI Business Strategy
YETI Holdings, Inc. is an American manufacturer specializing in outdoor cooling products like ice boxes, soft coolers, and vacuum-insulated stainless steel drink bottles and flasks. The company was founded in 2006, and its headquarters are in Austin, Texas.
YETI’s business strategy focuses on designing, manufacturing, and selling products that are durable enough for serious outdoor enthusiasts. The company’s mission is to “build the cooler we’d use every day if it existed”; it uses a production revenue model to achieve this.
Because YETI was founded by two brothers who shared a passion for fishing and hunting, the company’s origin story resonates throughout its branding and brand messaging, giving it an appealingly authentic feel.
In line with this authenticity, the YETI website highlights customer stories and articles about the outdoors – these form a vital pillar of the brand’s overall marketing strategy and are conveyed through articles, films, and podcasts. There are also numerous YETI brand ambassadors from the US and Australia.
In 2012, private equity firm Cortec Group purchased a two-thirds stake in YETI for $67 million. Four years later, YETI filed for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, seeking a valuation of $5 billion. However, a couple of years later, it retracted the IPO, citing “market conditions”.
It wasn’t until 2018 that YETI finally became a public company with an initial offering of 16 million shares at $18 per share.
Despite having several ambassadors, YETI has stayed away from influencer marketing, despite attracting attention from some of the most famous people in the world, including Matt Damon and Kim Kardashian. Kardashian posted a picture of her YETI V Series Cooler on Instagram in 2018.
Like many successful brands, part of YETI’s success comes from its fans’ sense of community. Some even share their extensive collection of products online, posting photos of their YOTD (YETI-of-the-day). This organic word-of-mouth marketing has helped propel the YETI brand to pop culture juggernaut status.
YETI’s pared-back marketing strategy is having a profound impact on the company’s growth. In 2022, its first-quarter sales rose 19% to $293.6 million, and direct-to-consumer sales increased 23%.
YETI Competitors Analysis
YETI competes against other outdoor cooling equipment companies like Igloo Products and Grizzly Coolers.
Igloo Products Corp. is an American manufacturer of drink containers, ice boxes, and similar accessories. Founded in 1947 and headquartered in Katy, Texas, Igloo is a subsidiary of Domestic Group.
Initially, the company began as a metalworking shop that made water coolers for blue-collar workers. It merged with the Production Tooling Company in early 1960, changing its name to Texas Tennessee Industries before it became Igloo again in 1971.
Domestic acquired Igloo for $677 million from private equity firm Acon Investments in 2021.
On its website, Igloo claims to have made the family outdoor recreation movement of the 20th century possible and that it is the number one cooler manufacturer in the world based on output – Igloo sells more than 500 products in hundreds of countries.
Like YETI, Igloo opts for a production revenue model. The company’s business strategy focuses on expanding its range of products and collaborating with other brands to gain more exposure. For example, Igloo sells collections by Disney, Star Wars, NASCAR, and The Simpsons – it calls these its “COOLaborations”.
The brand recognition of Igloo products in the US is solid; an incredible 90% of consumer households recognize the Igloo name. Still, Igloo knows its work is far from over, especially with competition hotting up within the market each year.
In 2021, Igloo announced a new direct-to-consumer (D2C) marketing strategy that’s all about connecting with customers by giving them more of what they want, whether that’s a partnership with a famous film franchise or a cooler made from recycled materials.
To differentiate itself from rival brands, Igloo aims to become the world’s most environmentally-friendly cooler company, allowing consumers to “do more with less.” This new business category, which focuses on community education and stewardship, was introduced following the success of the world’s first eco-friendly cooler, ReCool.
Igloo made $350 million in revenue in 2021.
Hydro Flask is a famous water bottle brand owned by Helen of Troy Ltd. It was founded in 2009 by Travis Rosbach and Cindy Weber, who were dissatisfied with the water bottles that were available at the time. The company was initially known as Steel Technologies LLC.
Hydro Flask is best known for its vacuum-insulated steel water bottles, which became popular in 2019 and 2020. Partly, the initial popularity of these products was because they were the first insulated bottles on the market. But there’s more to it than just that.
Hydro Flasks combine two essential qualities: they allow their owners to project a stylish image and make a political statement. That political statement is about saving the planet from the horrors of single-use plastic bottles.
These water bottles became popular because they fitted perfectly into three converging trends which still define much of our culture today:
- The self-care wellness trend.
- The environmental trend.
- The trend of having a hot or cold drink on hand wherever you go.
Helen of Troy Limited bought Hydro Flask in 2016 for $210 million. Its headquarters are in Bend, Oregon – a location that fits the company’s focus on the outdoors.
Hydro Flask’s charitable program, “Parks for All”, aligns with the environmental appeal of its water bottles. Through this program, it has supported over 120 non-profit organizations and donated over $1.3 million.
Hydro Flask’s marketing strategy relies on brand ambassadors, including people with a broad range of interests and backgrounds, such as surfers, athletes, artists, cancer survivors, and outdoor chefs.
However, word-of-mouth marketing helped the Hydro Flask brand rise to fame, mainly thanks to VSCO girls on social media, who made this water bottle an “it” product.
Three years after Helen of Troy acquired Hydro Flask, US water bottle sales skyrocketed 42% to $318 million, so the trend shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. According to NPD Group, Hydro Flask is the leading company in this market segment.
Hydro Flask’s estimated annual revenue is $44.7 million.
ORCA Coolers is a premium American drinkware and cooler manufacturer founded in 2012 and headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. ORCA stands for Outdoor Recreation Company of America, and this patriotism and a strong sense of identity are central to the brand.
ORCA’s original mission was to create an American-made, roto-molded cooler that was better than all others on the market. While YETI focuses primarily on the durability of its products, ORCA also prioritizes “fun” by creating custom, colorful, and bright designs.
To reinforce the reliability of its products, ORCA offers a lifetime warranty on its hard-sided coolers, a three-year manufacturer’s warranty on its soft-sided coolers, and a five-year manufacturer’s warranty on its drinkware.
ORCA has an affiliate program To boost sales and generate a strong brand following, which allows people to make money by directing traffic to its website. Affiliates also get an 8% commission on sales.
One way ORCA differentiates itself from rival companies is by acquiring licenses to use the colors and logos of American sports teams on products. ORCA has more licenses than any other brand, with 32 NFL teams, 30 NCAA teams, 30 MLB teams, and 31 NHL teams.
In 2022, Forbes named the ORCA 140 quart the “best large cooler” of the year.
ORCA was acquired by MacNeill Pride Group, a global designer and manufacturer of sporting goods and similar products, in 2020 for an undisclosed amount. MacNeill is part of a private equity firm called Centre Partners that has invested over $2 billion in more than 80 countries since it was founded in the mid-eighties.
Bison Coolers is a family-owned cooler manufacturing company founded in 2011 and headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas.
Bison is remarkably similar to ORCA, right down to the design of its website. Both brands emphasize that their products are American-made. However, Bison sells a broader range of products, including drinkware, chairs, bags, and clothing.
Originally, Bison planned to follow a direct-to-consumer business model, but the company received hundreds of requests from retailers wanting to stock Bison products. Today, it has over 700 retailers across the US.
Social media is an important marketing channel for Bison; the brand is particularly active on Instagram, where it posts colorful photos of its tie-dye and custom drinks bottles. Indeed, offering customization is one way Bison differentiates itself – customers can choose custom graphics, laser engraving, or a heat press design.
Bison is a minor competitor of YETI since the brand has garnered limited attention. Its focus is primarily on American consumers, and its products aren’t popular enough to warrant the creation of an ambassador program.
According to Jeremy Denson, co-founder of Bison, “Bison coolers provide the best value on the market;” they are neither the cheapest nor the most expensive.
Bison’s annual revenue is estimated at around $5 million.
Grizzly Coolers, LLC. is an American outdoor equipment company specializing in rugged, “bear tested” coolers. It was founded in 2002, and its headquarters are in Decorah, Iowa.
Compared to ORCA and Hydro Flask, Grizzly is a much more pared-down brand; it cares less about style and more about practicality. The company sells a range of hunting products, so its target demographic is likely to prefer rugged, functional equipment rather than colorful designs.
Grizzly makes its coolers using rotationally molded plastic so that they can survive the toughest abuse. To prove this, they are subjected to strict IGBC Bear Resistance testing to keep bears (and your drinks) safe.
The company also suggests on its website that its coolers hold ice longer than others on the market; it has tested them in extreme conditions.
Part of Grizzly’s marketing strategy involves the sponsorship of individuals and events, which helps to boost brand recognition within the right kind of communities.
Like Bison Coolers, Grizzly combines a D2C model with dealers who stock its products across the US.
Grizzly’s annual revenue is estimated at $17.5 million.
YETI SWOT Analysis
Find out about YETI’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in this SWOT analysis.
- Highly durable products are of a higher quality than many rivals
- Strong brand recognition and organic celebrity endorsement
- Excellent customer reviews
- Interactive website with solid brand messaging
- Owns several intellectual property rights
- Present in 20 European countries with an expansion plan in place
- Tundra coolers are manufactured in the USA
- A large number of outlets in each State
- Excellent business relationships with dealers and sellers
- Low-cost operational structures
- Some products are manufactured in China, making the company vulnerable to supply chain issues
- Expensive products compared to rival companies
- Only a few products have a high market share
- Brand awareness is lower outside the US
- Lack of significant product differentiation relative to the competition
- High-day sales inventory – it takes longer for products to be purchased than the industry average
- Take advantage of the growing popularity of e-commerce
- Promote YETI products using the full range of social media, including Tik Tok
- Expand product line further
- Continue to build on the company’s environmental activism
- Move into new and emerging markets
- Technological developments could help reduce costs
- Take advantage of green governmental policies
- Look into the health industry as a potential area for product expansion
- YETI has many competitors who offer similar products with little differentiation
- There are many lookalike products with lower price tags
- War in Ukraine has thrown European economies into uncertainty
- Consumer tastes and trends change very quickly
FAQs about the YETI Competitors Analysis
Question: What is so special about a YETI cooler?
Answer: Several things make YETI coolers stand out, including superior ice retention, impressive durability, and high build quality.
Question: Who is YETI’s biggest competitor?
Answer: Igloo is YETI’s biggest competitor based on annual revenue, bringing in $350 million in 2021. Many other companies manufacture coolers, but few have achieved the success of YETI.
Question: Who are YETI’s customers?
Answer: YETI’s stated target audience is serious outdoor enthusiasts, but in reality, all sorts of different people buy YETI coolers. Even Kim Kardashian posted a picture with hers, showing that the brand’s reach extends far beyond people who fish and hunt. You could easily use its products for a glamorous day at the beach or a serious hunting trip.
There are many competitors in the outdoor recreation and equipment market, but none have achieved the kind of popularity that has allowed YETI to increase sales by 42% in the first quarter of 2021.
The market is likely to grow significantly over the next decade. With organic endorsements from famous people and powerful word-of-mouth marketing, YETI is in a powerful position to take advantage of this.;