The rise of the Stanley tumbler: How a 110-year-old brand achieved viral success

The rise of the Stanley tumbler: How a 110-year-old brand achieved viral success
The rise of the Stanley tumbler: How a 110-year-old brand achieved viral success

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Not usually will a product with such a easy function resonate a lot with customers and appeal to such a loyal following. And even much less possible is that product to return from a brand that’s over 100 years previous.
Yet Stanley 1913’s Quencher has defied these odds.
The product has grown wildly widespread with customers lately with “Stanley Cup” — a water tumbler, not the trophy awarded to the winner of the National Hockey League championship — amassing about 20 million views on TikTook. The Quencher is available in numerous sizes, however the 40 oz and 30 oz types are the hottest, priced between $35 and $50. The product boasts options like a deal with; the skill to maintain drinks sizzling for 5 to seven hours and chilly for 9 to 11 hours; and the proven fact that it matches inside of most automobile cup holders.
But the cup, which was launched in 2016, solely lately went viral. In truth, Stanley wasn’t prioritizing the product in any respect up till a few years in the past.
So how was a 110-year-old firm in a position to pivot to broaden its buyer section and turn into one of the hottest drinkware manufacturers in the present day?
It took group of ladies who did not even work at the firm — however noticed the product’s potential — to make the Quencher a hit.

The rise of the Stanley cup
Stanley’s Instagram web page options its drinkware in a rainbow of colours — from smooth pastels to vibrant hues. Some merchandise are even adorned with etched patterns so as to add to their enchantment. The brand’s web site reveals ladies having espresso, a particular person doing yoga and two ladies strolling and chatting whereas holding their Stanley drinkware.
While ladies at the moment are clearly a key focus for the brand, that hasn’t at all times been the case.
William Stanley invented the metal vacuum-sealed bottle in 1913 and in the century since, “his vacuum bottle advanced from idea to icon and has turn into a vital half of workdays, street journeys and outside adventures,” the firm mentioned. The firm traditionally focused workmen and people taking part in open air actions, like tenting and mountain climbing, in its advertising and marketing. As lately as 2012, Stanley talked about that its merchandise resonated with “a 30-year-career veteran policeman” and “a retired Army soldier.”
How did the brand increase past its rugged picture to one thing that appealed to a broader buyer, who would incorporate the merchandise into their on a regular basis life? With the assist of three ladies.
Linley Hutchinson, Ashlee LeSueur and Taylor Cannon — the founders of The Buy Guide, a web-based purchasing weblog and Instagram account that began in 2017 — had been early lovers of the Stanley Quencher.
The Buy Guide’s second put up on Instagram, again in November 2017, featured a 40-oz Stanley Quencher. “Of all the insulated cups… that is the one. Just belief,” the put up learn, touting the product’s options like its deal with, straw, skill to maintain drinks chilly and the proven fact that it was dishwasher protected.

Permission granted by Stanley

Once LeSueur found the product, she gifted one to each Hutchinson and Cannon to see in the event that they favored the cup simply as a lot as she did. “We rapidly fell in love after which it clearly grew to become one of our hero merchandise on The Buy Guide. And so our followers fell in love with it, too,” Hutchinson mentioned.

But the Quencher more and more grew to become tougher to seek out in inventory and gave the impression to be in danger of being discontinued, Hutchinson recalled. “We had heard that Stanley was discontinuing the 40-oz Quencher,” Hutchinson mentioned. “So we had been telling all our followers, ‘Hurry, get your arms on any cup that yow will discover. We’ve heard that that is going away. Please inform Stanley that you do not need it to go away, that you simply love the cup a lot.’”

The ladies of The Buy Guide
Permission granted by The Buy Guide

Matt Navaro, senior vice chairman of international commerce at Stanley, instructed Retail Dive that whereas there have been no plans to discontinue Quencher manufacturing in 2019, “the tumbler wasn’t prioritized at the time.”
An worker who labored at Stanley messaged The Buy Guide and mentioned they agreed that they thought the cup was a nice product and introduced up The Buy Guide’s expertise at a assembly with Stanley executives. However, whereas many manufacturers work with influencers and accounts like The Buy Guide by way of affiliate marketing online, Stanley had not participated in these applications at the time. Instead, Stanley directed the ladies to position a wholesale order — with a minimal order amount of 10,000 cups.

“Any brand on the planet that is not advertising and marketing to the 25 to 50 yr previous lady is basically lacking the mark.”

Ashlee LeSueur
Founder of The Buy Guide

“It was a large threat,” Cannon mentioned, including that they needed to rapidly arrange a web site, get a warehouse and work out how one can ship the product to customers. “We ordered these cups and had been like, ‘We do not know if we will promote out of these tomorrow, or if we will be making an attempt to get rid of cups for the relaxation of our lives.”
It was the group’s first and solely wholesale partnership of that sort with a brand. The Buy Guide bought out of its first 5,000 cups in about 4 days. It bought by way of the second 5,000 cups in an hour. 
“It blew their minds,” Cannon recalled about Stanley’s response to how rapidly The Buy Guide was in a position to promote by way of its cups.
This occurred round the similar time Stanley was ushering in new management that began to see worth and potential in the Quencher. The new leaders — together with Terence Reilly, Stanley’s international president for Stanley at PMI Worldwide, Stanley’s guardian firm — “noticed the alternative to prioritize the hydration class as a complete,” Navaro mentioned. “When wanting into the product pipeline, we wager on the proven fact that the Quencher use case match our new technique of hydration, coloration revolution and assembly client life-style.”
Stanley executives reached out to The Buy Guide to schedule a time to fulfill with them and flew them out to Colorado the place they had been attending the Outdoor Retailer convention. “We simply sat down with the govt staff and had been like, ‘You’re advertising and marketing this cup to the incorrect folks,’” Hutchinson mentioned.
The Buy Guide needed to assist the brand increase its attain past the workmen and outdoorsmen it had usually marketed to in the previous.
“We can present them what it might seem like if ladies may promote it to ladies,” LeSueur mentioned. “Stanley had been a firm solely producing occasional-use gadgets. They had been making gadgets for folks’s tenting journeys or tailgating. We instructed them that this cup was a daily-use merchandise. It was an on a regular basis, all-day merchandise. And that it wanted to look good in folks’s houses and kitchens, with their outfits, and never simply in the nice open air.”
The Buy Guide’s following is 97.7% ladies, with the highest demographic being ladies aged 35 to 44, in keeping with information The Buy Guide shared with Retail Dive. Almost 100% of its followers are between the ages of 25 and 45.

“Any brand on the planet that is not advertising and marketing to the 25 to 50 yr previous lady is basically lacking the mark,” LeSueur mentioned. “Even if you’re a males’s clothes line — it doesn’t matter what you might be — if you’re not discovering a technique to converse to this 25-to-50-year-old feminine, you are lacking the mark as a result of these are the patrons of our economic system. They purchase for his or her households, they purchase for his or her husbands, they purchase for his or her companies.”
The partnership with The Buy Guide resulted in “profitable outreach to new Stanley followers — and new Quencher followers,” Navaro mentioned. It led to word-of-mouth suggestions and heightened demand for the Quencher. “We then targeted extra of our efforts on this must-have product by way of our revamped web site and through social media.”
The Buy Guide additionally helped Stanley enter into the universe of affiliate marketing online as the brand introduced the Quencher again in full power.
Navaro mentioned the affiliate marketing online channel has opened Stanley as much as new audiences and has allowed customers to attach extra straight with the brand. Using influencer advertising and marketing additionally faucets into an emotional reference to customers, in keeping with Namrata Shah, a associate and international head of client and sweetness at PERLab, the product redesign follow of Kearney.
“Women speaking to ladies and referring creates a lot extra belief in the product and the brand versus the typical advertising and marketing techniques and techniques which were utilized in the previous,” Shah mentioned.
And social media extra broadly has led to customers themselves posting about their expertise with the product, extending the brand’s attain even additional.
“Frankly, the client kind of took over for us in locations like TikTook the place we have now 700 million views of #StanleyTumbler on TikTook,” Navaro mentioned. “All of the movies and content material on TikTook are user-generated. So it is actually the client connecting to our brand by way of social media, and simply placing the client first.”
Stanley’s current success might be credited to the brand’s skill and willingness to shift its focus.
“When they acquired good indicator information, after they heard from The Buy Guide, after they heard the conversations on social media round what ladies had been speaking about and why ladies like this cup, they pivoted instantly and I feel that was the greatest unlock for them,” Shah mentioned. 
That finally led to a renaissance in Stanley’s merchandise and carried the brand by way of the years to cement its relevance with customers, in keeping with Navaro.
“We are so lucky to have a 110-year-old brand rooted in American historical past,” Navaro mentioned. “So many individuals, particularly in the U.S. and North America, have an emotional connection to our brand — from their grandfather taking them fishing with Stanley [products] to engaged on a job website. Just a deep, emotional reference to our brand, which allowed us to then — by way of innovation and actually by way of our digital advertising and marketing experience — deliver the brand to the twenty first century and join with in the present day’s client.”
A case for accumulating
It’s not simply that customers are shopping for Stanley’s Quencher tumblers now. Some customers have gone as far as to fill their cupboards with a rainbow of Stanley cups, including to their collections when a new colorway or limited-edition drop comes out.
TikTook consumer @aly_zee12 in a video reveals off their assortment of 18 Stanley Quencher tumblers in numerous colours and sizes. Similarly in one other video, TikTook consumer @lindseyharbison displayed about a dozen Stanley Quenchers filling their cupboard.
“When we take into consideration accumulating, we strive to consider collectibles, which are usually one thing you would not take into consideration while you’re speaking about a Stanley Quencher bottle. You would possibly suppose that applies to dolls or jewellery,” Peter Danzig, a researcher, psychotherapist and marketing consultant, instructed Retail Dive. “And that’s true. But something is collectible that has materials tradition. What’s most necessary is the motive folks acquire is as a result of it brings them a sense of pleasure.”

“Nobody talks about the pleasure that folks have after they open their cupboards and see the multitude of these water bottles.”

Peter Danzig
Researcher, psychotherapist and marketing consultant

Danzig mentioned that since the pandemic, analysis round materials tradition has proven an uptick in folks accumulating issues.
“What we have seen is as a consequence of the pandemic, when folks had been beneath isolation, they had been discovering what small joys they discovered of their day-to-day and discovering pleasure in the little issues,” they mentioned.
This corresponds with customers more and more leaning into well being and wellness tendencies, together with hydration, popping out of the pandemic.
When it involves accumulating, Danzig mentioned, there’s a sense of accomplishment. “There’s a visualization of completeness. There’s one thing tangible that you could tie it to. … People acquire as a result of it offers them a sense of function. It offers them the drive. There is one thing in the hunt and the discover that’s thrilling for folks.”
People may buy a number of Quenchers for various areas of their lives — for his or her morning espresso, for his or her exercises, to go together with totally different outfits, one to brighten with stickers.
The enchantment with Stanley’s Quencher specifically stems not solely from the product performing properly, but in addition from the way it seems and the way it makes clients really feel after they use it.
“A brand or product that basically will resonate with customers is after they have the excellent mixture of addressing the technical, practical and emotional wants of the client,” Shah mentioned. “If you miss anybody of these wants, it is going to critically impression both the usability, the consumer expertise or the emotional join.”
Shah added that a Stanley tumbler not solely has a superb technical basis with options like an ergonomic deal with and the skill to suit securely in a cup holder, however it additionally is available in colours “that goes to the emotional wants of folks like me that take into consideration the cup way more as an adjunct and never simply a water bottle. I need that optionality to find out what’s the one which I wish to carry with me in the present day as I’m going round in my every day chores or I’m going to my Peloton courses.”

Permission granted by Stanley

Stanley has launched a quantity of collections in numerous colours, finishes and patterns, in addition to some in collaboration with manufacturers like Pendleton and Target’s Hearth and Hand with Magnolia line. To drive much more curiosity in new releases, the firm adopted a tactic round “drops” that’s usually seen in sneaker tradition and utilized by streetwear manufacturers.
“There is one thing so thrilling when anyone is ready,” Danzig mentioned. People wish to see what the merchandise goes to seem like, and as soon as they do, it “brings a rush of adrenaline and if they’re able to get it — that is dopamine.”
The restricted drops generate consideration from followers and infrequently trigger merchandise to promote out rapidly.
“I feel there definitely is a promotional technique round FOMO, concern of lacking out, tradition and actually driving actually intense demand for merchandise by providing restricted, special-edition drops; partnerships with different actually cool, sizzling, stylish manufacturers; collaborations with celebrities and artists and athletes — has actually simply helped create the brand standing I’d say we have now in the present day,” Navaro mentioned.
Nostalgia additionally performs a function in why customers acquire sure gadgets or gravitate to pick out manufacturers, Danzig mentioned, noting that nostalgia doesn’t essentially imply the product traces again to at least one’s childhood; it could stem from the final couple of years.
“Maybe anyone throughout the pandemic found they actually favored these water bottles and so they bear in mind first discovering them and buying every new one or the new colours, and seeing that rainbow after they open the cupboard nonetheless brings them a sense of what introduced them pleasure throughout a very darkish time,” Danzig mentioned.
Social media has additionally helped drive a need to gather gadgets extra lately, Danzig added. “We have seen a large impression psychologically on the discovering of neighborhood,” they mentioned. “They really can remark and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve that too. I really like the operate of this.’ or ‘I really like this coloration. I really like this visibility.’ And they comply with these different folks as a result of there’s a sense of neighborhood. You’re being seen, heard and affirmed.
“At least in Western tradition, we’re primarily based in consumerism and capitalism. We promote issues and make a revenue. But no person talks about the pleasure that folks have after they open their cupboards and see the multitude of these water bottles,” Danzig added. “There’s a name to motion for me with social media the place folks can get the affirmation the place they might not be getting that from your pals or colleagues or members of the family that folks would possibly simply be saying, ‘That’s simply a water bottle. I do not get why you are accumulating that.’ When you are navigating on-line interactions, they’re constructing a sense of neighborhood and affirmation that they’re not at all times in a position to get, or they’re affirming what they know inside, however they did not know different folks favored it as properly.”
Lasting energy
The Quencher’s recognition has skyrocketed lately.
This yr, Stanley has seen a 275% year-over-year improve in Quencher gross sales and has skilled a 215% improve in its best-selling class, hydration, in keeping with Navaro. “If we glance again over the final six months, we have now firmly planted ourselves as the No. 1 drinkware brand in North America,” Navaro added.
In the previous few years, the brand has achieved a good job connecting with each current and potential clients; committing to their core design ideas of type, operate and design; and having the skill to behave on altering tendencies, in keeping with Shah.
“They have a phenomenal pulse on the conversations on social media — what are folks speaking about?” Shah mentioned. “It’s the connectivity. It’s not simply a product that they are placing in the market. It’s about listening to the customers, what actually issues to them and really engaged on that and bringing that providing to the market.”
The brand, and the Quencher particularly, additionally look like driving tendencies throughout the trade — and rising competitors.
Hydro Flask’s guardian firm, Helen of Troy, mentioned earlier this yr that it’s making a shift away from water bottles, the place it says it’s a class chief, to tumblers, the place it has a a lot smaller presence. 
“The market is getting crowded, there are a lot of choices. But what [Stanley has] achieved is that they’ve made very fast selections and pivoted — listening to the customers, after they had ladies speaking on-line on social media, they rapidly launched a line focusing on them, listening to their wants,” Shah mentioned.
Over the years, a quantity of manufacturers have surfaced as the “sizzling” water bottle of the second: Nalgene, CamelBak, S’properly and even Hydro Flask. Can Stanley cement its place as a chief in the area?
To Shah, Stanley has endurance, however “they can not relaxation on their laurels. What has introduced them right here just isn’t going to hold them for the subsequent 5, 10 years,” Shah mentioned. “They must get good about managing the rising complexity they’re taking up as they increase their portfolio as a result of they’re making an attempt to get to very totally different client segments. If you do not handle the complexity properly, it may harm you.”
The firm has additionally been purposeful in its distribution, deciding on retail companions it is aware of will resonate with customers and that can present a premium and constant buyer expertise for its merchandise, in keeping with Navaro. Stanley continues to be “consumer-first,” making certain that buyer demand, suggestions and insights are driving the merchandise that the brand brings to market.
“We cannot simply preserve making totally different colours of the similar product,” Navaro mentioned. “We must deliver merchandise which might be related and revolutionary in the area.”

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