Does Design Thinking Create Value? Just Ask a Yeti.

Design Thinking and Yeti

Back in July I wrote that Dollar Shave Club’s made the case for the value of Design Thinking. The story of Yeti, a company that made its name selling $400 coolers, is yet another proof point.

In September the Wall Street Journal reported that Yeti, the out-of-nowhere maker of rugged coolers, had filed for an IPO at a valuation that would pay back its initial investors more than 50 times. While it’s not quite clear yet when that IPO will happen, it is clear that Yeti has created enormous new value in a category that everyone else saw as a commodity.

How? Whether the founders of Yeti knew it or not, they relied on the principles of Design Thinking. Design Thinking is a human-centric, rather than a product-centric, approach to innovation. Traditional cooler makers had been making the same products for years and were trapped in rigid ways of thinking about their products that didn’t allow them to see new opportunity. But the Yeti founders were able to empathize with people—extreme users like hunters and fisherman—for whom most coolers don’t work that well. By being human-centric, they saw opportunity. And by being human-centric, they were able to design not just a new cooler but an entire customer experience—product, story, brand and community—that would deeply resonate with these people.

The result is that Yeti able to sell a cooler for a price several times higher than the folks at Coleman or Igloo ever thought possible. Yeti has since parlayed that success into an entire product line and enormous value creation.

To learn how you can apply these principles to your own business, download our papers on Design Thinking and Experience Design.

Dan Ostrower

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Dan Ostrower