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Why everyone is obsessed with Stanley Cups?

The recent craze over Stanley Cups might seem surprising. But, if you look into it, you'll see there are good reasons why people have seemingly gone mad for this product.

Customer Success Team
February 2, 2024

One of the hottest crazes on social media (especially TikTok) is Stanly Cups. Professional content creators and standard users alike seem to have gone mad for these cups. This has not only brought a significant amount of revenue to the Stanley company (we'll discuss how big of an increase it was later), but it has also brought in a slew of add-ons and accessories for the cups themselves. You even have people reselling limited-edition cups on eBay for hundreds of dollars. So, why are Stanley Cups so popular all of a sudden? Well, let's find out.

What's going on with Stanley Cups?

The recent booming popularity of Stanely Cups isn't actually anything new. The older among you may remember how popular the iPhone was when it came out and how it was all the craze. The even older may remember Beany babies, and how everyone seemed to go crazy for them. So, it shouldn't be that odd that Stanely Cups came and became a new craze. But, for those that are still unaware, let's first outline what are Stanley Cups.

Brief History of Stanley Cups

The Stanely company is actually founded 181 years ago. It mainly worked as a manufacturer of industrial tools and household hardware. They patented and started making vacuum-sealed water bottles back in 1913. The idea was simple. Create a nice bottle that will keep cold drinks cold, and hot drinks hot. Ideally for outgoers and hikers. Because Stanely primarily focused on utility and performance, they tended to gear their marketing more towards men. While orienting your content towards a certain demographic is a good idea, in this case, it did essentially alienate half of the population. Of course, Stanely was by no means doing poorly as it were. But, they saw a significant change in 2019.

In 2016 Stanely launched the Quencher, now known as the Stanely Cup. This is a stainless steel bottle with double-wall insulation. It also has a handle and a reusable straw. It might surprise you to learn that Stanely cups weren't all that popular once they came out. But, they suddenly picked up in popularity in 2019.

2019 boom

In 2019 sisters Taylor Cannon and Ashlee LeSuer marketed the Stanely Cup on their blog The Buy Guide. They highlighted the product and essentially stated that it is top-notch and that it will be the only cup you need. People (especially women) soon picked up on their blog and started highlighting their own joy of having a Stanley Cup. Before long, Stanely couldn't make enough of them to meet the demand.

different stanley cups in same color
Different variations of Stanley Cups.

2019 - 2024

Stanely recognized that women were the go-to audience for their cups and oriented their marketing accordingly. Before long we had cup sweaters, different straws, and various cutesy addons for cups. Furthermore, we had limited edition cups that came out in specific colors. You even have Stanley Cup collectors that have dozens of cups in different colors. The most recent edition is in Barbie pink color, and they caused quite a wave of attention on social media. So much so that TikTok is filled with UGC highlighting these cups.

Why did this happen?

To give you an idea of how successful the Quencher was, know that in 2019 Stanly earned $70 million in sales. While in 2023 they earned $750 million. And a 10 times increase in 4 years isn't something that happens often. So, what happened to make all of this possible?

Previous knowledge

Keep in mind that Stanely is a company that's been in business for 181 years. As such, they've had plenty of time to develop their marketing, research their audience, and find a unique brand voice. Of course, they changed marketing changed quite substantially during those years. But, due to those changes they've learned the value of first-party data and they learned how to change tactics to meet ongoing trends. So, while it may seem that their success happened overnight, know that it was based on years and years of marketing practice and refinement.

Good timing

Another thing that Stanely has learned over the years is the importance of timing for marketing. No type of content or a creative approach will be effective if you do not time it properly. Notice that the current limited edition bottle of Stanely Cups is quite reminiscent of Barbie. Also notice that just enough time has passed that the movie Barbie is still in people's minds, but not so much to be dominant. Therefore, if one was to piggyback their marketing on Barbie, without being overly connected to it, this is the ideal time.

Creating demand

Creating demand is an age-old marketing strategy. Namely, what you do is that you limit the availability of an item you'd want to sell. At first glance, this does seem counterintuitive. After all, wouldn't you want to sell as many products as quickly as possible? Well, while you might opt to do so, it turns out that it is not the best long-term strategy. If you want people to build the want for your product, you have to create demand. And what better way to do so than with limited-time offers shown through engaging content? If people know that they cannot get something anytime they want, they will want that thing more. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is a true and tested psychological effect, and Stanley made it quite well.

Stanley's special edition cups in storyformat
We all know the feeling of wanting something more if, for some reason, we cannot have it.

To illustrate this, let's just consider what an average person who would perhaps want a Stanley Cup goes through:

  • They open their social media.
  • They see another user boasting about having a new Stanley Cup.
  • Whether or not the person would like that cup, they still find out that it is a limited edition. Meaning that they have a limited period to get it.
  • Now, the wheel starts turning. Even if they didn't consider getting the cup, they wouldn't want to miss out on a limited offer. Plus, there is a whole bunch of people praising it, so it must be worth the money.
  • And bam, you have your demand.

If the recent pink cups were as available as people demand, it would soon become a past trend. But, because people have to wait and even beg Stanley to make them, the demand is at a constant high. In the long run, this sells far more cups than if Stanely would outright meet their demand.

Influencer marketing

Let's now take notice of the fact that this whole ordeal started due to influencer marketing. Two influencer sisters decided to review Stanely Cups and highlight their use. They didn't realize at the time how effective their marketing would be, but low and behold, it was. So, what made influencer marketing so effective for Stanley Cups?

Well, there are a couple of things that went Stanely way here. Firstly, their cup is actually quite good. Among the stainless steel and reusable bottles, their product is top-notch. Therefore, once people started using them, they could actually recommend them as a quality product. This might be redundant to some, but let us remind you that quality is a big part of any marketing campaign. Especially when it is easily verifiable, as it is with Stanely Cups. Secondly, these influencers managed to strike a chord with a crowd that Stanely likely didn't consider. Because there was a decent rapport among women, Stanely recognized that they needed to refocus their marketing. And lastly, even then, the timing was on Stanely's side. Back in 2019 recycling and reusability were a big trend. Therefore, it was easy for Stanely to align itself with the eco-friendly trend.

User-generated content (UGC)

It's hard to determine how important UGC is for a growing brand. But, if a brand that is already developed manages to inspire social media users to create content about it, its popularity will do nothing but rise. This was, and still is the case with Stanely Cups. People recognized Stanley Cups as the "trendy" item that you "simply need to have". As such, it became a fashion trend to carry your Stanley Cup with you. Soon came different colors, add-ons, and accessories. People were more than happy to review each of those and outline how a Stanley Cup makes their day that much nicer. We even have collectors that boast about having all the versions of Stanley Cups with all the add-ons.

User-generated photo of Stanley's cup
Now, more than ever we have users creating product review content.

Arguably the biggest piece of UGC that affected Stanley Cups was a woman who filmed the after-effects of her house burning down. The only thing that remained from the burnt debris was an intact Stanely Cup, which still had ice in it. Now, is there a better piece of UGC you can think of?

Can you apply it to your marketing

So, there are a lot of things that Stanley did right to see such an astounding success with their cups. Yes, they had some luck going their way. But you shouldn't underplay the hard work that the marketing team did in Stanley over the long years. Now, does this mean that you should try to copy what Stanely did? Of course not. What you ought to do is use their success as an inspiration and further your marketing skills.

Determining your niche market

The first thing to note from the success of Stanley Cups is that you shouldn't be too close to your niche marketing. Even if you feel that you have a clear idea of who you are trying to target and how you shouldn't shy away from experimenting. Of course, it takes skills and experience to conduct valuable market research and experimentation, without it costing a small fortune. But, the sooner you get to it, the easier it will be.

Finding influencers

While there is a lot to say about what the future of social media will be like, it is safe to assume that influencers will remain a big part of it. People always perceive influences as more honest and forthcoming. And if brands wish to succeed, they need to find influencers that can reach their target niche. It is always worthwhile to research different influencers and find the ones that best suit your brand. If the right influencers pick up your product and actually enjoy it, you are likely to see a notable increase in UGC. Keep in mind that there are a lot of people for whom creating content is a hobby that they would like to make profitable. So, they are bound to copy at least some of what the more successful influencers are doing.

Having luck

This is a common mistake brand owners make, which is to believe that success is all down to luck. While luck plays a part in it, you should never downplay the preparation for it. Even if the initial marketing in 2019 marketing was a stroke of luck, it took the combined knowledge, long-term analytics, skill, and funding of Stanley to make the most of it. So, even if it seems pure chance, try not to think that it is so.

Final thoughts

Stanley Cups are a great example of when a brand knows how to market themselves. We hope that in the future, one of our readers will take the wisdom of Stanley, and make their brand shine. And on that journey, we hope that StorifyMe will play a notable role. Good luck!

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