Here’s why Otterbox is expanding beyond phone cases and adding coolers

FORT COLLINS — The idea to go from phone cases to coolers that can keep ice for 14 days might seem a stretch, but for Otterbox, the idea goes right back to its roots.

“Otterbox was founded in 1998 with a line of dry boxes that were crushproof and waterproof,” Kristen Tatti, communications manager for Otterbox, told BizWest. “It was an outdoor product, and we were an outdoor brand. We’re getting back to that initial focus.”

Tatti said the Fort Collins company — known officially as Otter Products LLC — that’s been made famous for its drop-proof phone cases wanted to take its expertise in design manufacturing to innovate in new areas.

For more than a year, Otterbox has been working on the rugged coolers and tumblers it recently debuted and that will be available for pre-order later this month.

“For the industry, that timeline is actually pretty short,” Tatti said. “It goes back to what we’re experts in: rapid design prototyping, which we honed in the process to get to market quickly with our phone cases. So we’ve been working on our design for just over a year.”

While the rugged cooler market isn’t without its competitors — Yeti and Rtic are both major players — Tatti said Otterbox was looking to bring something different.

“We wanted to think about: what does the consumer need,” she said. “We did a lot of consumer research to learn about what are the consumer pain points and how are people using their coolers. Really, no two consumers are the same in how they use them. There are people who are hardcore rugged outdoors people who go out for weeks at a time without seeing other people. There are people who are bringing it to the soccer field full of orange slices. We wanted to fit the lifestyle needs of all these different people.”

Otterbox’s solution was a cooler that was modular. The Venture cooler has a base, but people can choose add-ons like a cutting board, bottle opener or side tray based on what they need.

Like its cases, the coolers have also been put “through the ringer,” Tatti said, going through 26 drop tests full and empty, dropped from the height of a vehicle tailgate.

The coolers also come with a lifetime warranty.



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