Yeti coolers are far more expensive than your standard cooler and even more expensive than competing coolers of similar build/quality. So why are Yeti coolers so much more expensive than other coolers?
This won't be another “me too” article about why Yeti coolers are better than regular coolers, I'm guessing you already know all of that.
This article is a real look into how Yeti can continue to charge so much for coolers that are basically the same as all the competitors' coolers.
Why are people paying so much for a Yeti cooler when they can get a RTIC cooler which has the same specs for half the price?
Brand is the #1 reason Yeti coolers are so expensive. They cost so much because people are willing to pay more for a Yeti because the brand is desirable.
Yeti is undeniably THE brand when it comes to expensive roto-moulded coolers. Basically every other brand out there compares themselves to Yeti in quality and price.
Remember back when Steve Jobs was alive and iPhones were THE smartphone to have. Before Samsung and Android had really made a name for themselves you either had an iPhone or you wanted an iPhone.
When it comes to the high-end cooler market Yeti is still in that position. There are some other brands out there like Pelican which are starting to make a dent.
But really when it comes to branding Yeti are the only cooler company doing it right. Everyone else focuses on product specs and price while Yeti make short documentaries and inspiring videos about the lifestyle.
Just like Coco-Cola makes ads that make you think “Those people look so happy I'm going to drink Coke and be as happy and beautiful as them”, Yeti make ads that make you think “I want adventure and a life like that so I'll buy a Yeti”.
That may sound belittling but it isn't. I've reviewed loads of coolers and Yeti are still the only brand that REALLY inspire me to live a better life. Check out one of my favourite ads of theirs below.
Seriously people…I'm a vegetarian and this Yeti video makes me want to eat meat.
First To Market
Yeti single-handedly created the roto-moulded cooler market. Back in 2005-2006 when they started all that existed was the cheap crappy coolers you buy at Wallmart or your local hardware store.
Then Yeti came onto the scene and created their over-engineered cooler.
It was useful to the extreme people who bought them, but it also made a massive statement. If you owned a Yeti in those early days you would proudly show it off to your friends and everyone would be awestruck with how amazing this thing was.
Yeti had years to establish themselves and their brand before other competitors brought out their copycat products.
Control Over Distribution and Margins
One of the smartest things Yeti did was tightly control their distribution. They refused to sell into the Costco's and Wallmarts of the world and would only sell to small local stores.
In fact when Costco started selling Yeti coolers Yeti went as far as to track down how they were getting hold of the coolers (because Yeti weren't selling to them) and they shut it down. You can see the details here.
Just like Apple they also only provide stores with a thin margin. With other coolers the store might buy it for 50% of what you pay for it, so they can afford to discount it. With Yeti coolers stores likely make way less per sale. This means if they discount it they will lose money, and most stores just can't afford to do that.
I've written a whole article about why Yeti coolers are never on sale if you want to read more.
Quality and Finish
Yeti products have a top quality build quality as well as a premium finish that make them feel more expensive, even though the cost to make them is probably similar to other brands.
I've purchased a reviewed a lot of coolers from a lot of top competing brands like Pelican, Engel, Coleman etc.
Before actually seeing and touching these products I couldn't understand what made the Yeti stand out. But after seeing them all side by side I now understand.
It's hard to describe because it sounds like such a small difference, but the finish on the Yeti is just so superior to other brands it FEELS more expensive.
The plastic is smoother and the colors feel richer. The white on the Engel I bought back in 2016 felt like a cheap white, while the shade of the white on the Yeti felt expensive.
It's like comparing the design of an expensive mobile phone to that of a cheaper phone. You can't exactly say why the more expensive phone looks more expensive, but you KNOW it does. It's the same with Yeti.
For a better view on the quality and finish check out my unboxing video below:
Yeti was originally able to sell for 10X the price of regular coolers because of all it's awesome features.
5-10 days ice retention, crazy amounts of insulation, bear proof, almost indestructible. All those features still exist.
The reason I haven't focused on these in this article is because all the coolers like Yeti but cheaper also have these features for a much lower price.
While the Yeti cooler is still largely the same as it was 10 years ago Yeti continues to innovate in other areas.
They innovated with their soft coolers, making them better than any other soft cooler out there.
They innovated with their rambler cups and bottles, their duffle bags and their buckets.
Or maybe they didn't innovate in these areas, but it feels like they do. They often have something new coming out, something else they have over engineered and made awesome.
Why Are Yeti Coolers So Expensive?
Yeti coolers are so expensive because they have amazing features that make them better than your average cooler. But really Yeti coolers are so expensive because of:
- Branding – They are THE cooler brand
- Advertising – Their advertising is aspirational
- Distribution – Their distribution gives them control over pricing
- Quality and Finish – They FEEL expensive
- Innovation – They continue to appear innovative
Are Yeti Coolers Worth The Expense?
Yeti coolers are awesome. I have had my Yeti cooler for a couple of years now and I can say that yes it was worth the expense.
Whether or not you feel paying extra for the brand and quality/finish of a Yeti cooler vs another brand is completely up to you.
If you're not completely sure check out my article on Should You Buy A Yeti Knockoff Cooler?