How did YETI establish itself as a powerhouse outdoor adventure brand? The big secret? Actually getting to know their customers. Novel idea, I know. While traditional marketing lends itself to focus on brand awareness, YETI focuses on customer awareness. And in today’s world of tech censorship and data overload, the approach is refreshingly honest. No Google Analytics or SEO tricks here. We’re talking good old-fashioned porch hangs and (ice cold) beer.
“We allow the product to take us into places where we’re relevant. In the last five to six years, we’ve really become listeners. We put ourselves in position to find relevance with how people are using our products. If a community starts to form because they’re using our stuff, we just go shake hands and we literally treat them as you would a new friend.”
With a feel for the customers and a good sense of the who behind their products, YETI is able to shape their marketing efforts accordingly. In 2015, YETI Presents Films was announced, an outlet aimed at creating content to promote the YETI community. Boom. The brand took it a step further and rolled out a platform to foster comradery and unify its customers. And honestly, who doesn’t want to be apart of the YETI tribe? You instantly look cooler and you can keep your Topos chilled in the same ice for somewhere around three years (yes, I’m rounding up a bit). Bottom line, YETI makes it easy to be sold out for their brand.
Let’s shift genres. Think about the Lululemon effect. First of all, the brand can largely be thanked for establishing an entire new dress category: athleisure. But for the customers, it’s not just about the expensive yoga pants and the fitted tanks. It’s about the lifestyle they offer. It’s about belonging to the Lulu community. “While style, fit and comfort may be the driving forces of an initital purchase, it’s the offering of a lifestyle that these brands give to consumers that garner loyalty… it provides an experience, one that contributes to their social lives and equips them with a sense of belonging.” See? It’s not really about what cooler holds your weird local beer or which leggings you’re wearing to not work out in. No, it’s about the community these brands have created.
The big takeaway here is not the big brand names and the big $$$, but rather big relationships. And big relationships don’t have to be pricey or loud. Try a consistent, customer-focused presence. Listen to your customers and show up for your customers. Eventually, they’ll show up for you.