YETI coolers can sell for up to $1,300. Photos show how the brand became a status symbol in less than 10 years.

YETI coolers are marketed as being super tough, but there is some debate on whether they're worth the cost.

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YETI coolers are marketed as being super tough, but there is some debate on whether they’re worth the cost.
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YETI

YETI is known for its expensive coolers that have become a status symbol in America.

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Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

This is their most expensive, the 82-gallon Tundra 350.

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YETI

It retails for $1,300.

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Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

Since the company was founded in 2006, YETI has become an iconic brand.

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YETI

And they now make a lot more than just coolers.

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YETI

Their product lineup includes things like drinkware …

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YETI

… apparel …

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YETI

… and even dog bowls.

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YETI

But the coolers are what the brand is best known for …

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Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

… like the popular Tundra 35 that retails for $250.

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Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

But you can get a comparably-sized cooler from legacy brands like Coleman and Igloo …

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Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

… for closer to $40.

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Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

So why are YETI coolers so expensive?

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YETI

There are two pretty simple answers: technology …

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Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

… and marketing.

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Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

The Austin, Texas-based company was founded by the Seiders brothers.

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YETI

They’re two avid outdoorsmen who felt there weren’t any coolers on the market that kept their catches …

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YETI

… kills …

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YETI

… and beverages cold enough for long enough.

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Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

They teamed up with a factory in the Philippines to create a cooler that they described as indestructible …

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YETI

… with superior ice retention.

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YETI

Their first cooler hit the market in 2006, and if you were serious about keeping your catches, kills, and “brewskies” as cold as possible, you needed a YETI.

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YETI

So, how do they work?

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Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

The cooler’s shell is made of a common plastic called polyethylene with a process called rotomolding.

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YETI

Rotomolding uses high temperature and low pressure to create one piece of hollow plastic.

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YETI

It’s the same process used to make kayaks.

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g-stockstudio/Shutterstock

The shell is pressure injected with up to three inches of commercial-grade polyurethane foam.

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YETI

And that’s what keeps your beers, catches, and kills cold for so long.

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YETI

The coolers feature a full-frame, freezer-quality gasket that seals around the entire lid to minimize air exchange.

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YETI

And from our personal experience with the coolers, they work.

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Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

But are they worth the high price tag?

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YETI

So we asked a people on Facebook, and the responses were mixed.

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Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

One person said, “Definitely.”

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Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

Another pointed out that “They’re heavy AF” — we agree that they are heavy.

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Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

And one responder just said, “No.”

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Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

Another commenter wrote that “There are cheaper brands that work just as well.”

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Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

That person isn’t wrong. There are some rotomolded YETI competitors like Orca, OtterBox, and RTIC, that are slightly cheaper, but still comparably priced.

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Orca

But none of them have been able to create the brand phenomenon that YETI has seen.

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YETI

In October of 2018, YETI went public when they filed an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.


The company’s market cap is now estimated at $2.25 billion.

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YETI

Source: Markets Insider


So, how are YETI coolers able to carry that high price tag? Marketing. Highly-effective marketing.

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YETI

And their campaign to ramp up the population of YETI nation is just getting started.

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YETI

The company hired Melisa Goldie, the former head of marketing for Calvin Klein, to be its Chief Marketing Officer.

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Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

And the company’s effective use of the all-American, rugged, outdoor lifestyle keeps customers coming back for more.

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YETI