Stupendous Success for Stanley

Written by Jonathan Baker

Discover how a unique chain of events for a brand that produces beverage containers for people who are on-the-go became a marketing sensation—thanks to a seemingly unlikely audience.

A brief history and explanation of Stanley containers

For over 100 years, Stanley products—mugs, cups, tumblers, and water bottles—have been best friends to those who drive long distances, travail the great outdoors, or simply can’t get to enjoy their favorite beverages from the comfort of home. What makes these products unique for quenching thirst is how their creator—William Stanley Jr.—devised a process that fused vacuum insulation and steel into one portable bottle to keep beverages cold or hot. Pretty impressive for 1911 ingenuity, yes? Now, fast-forward to the 21st century.

The Stanley Quencher

As reported last November in Retail Dive, one particular Stanley product—appropriately named “the Quencher”—has grown dramatically in popularity among consumers over the course of the last several years. Created and on the market since 2016, the Stanley Quencher was not one of Stanley’s top-selling items. That status has changed. (Now, recheck the lead-in above. Take note of the term, “unlikely audience.”)

Defying audience expectations—or rather, expectations of audience

The beverage containers from Stanley have primarily been marketed to men who worked outside or camped, hiked, or pursued other outdoor activities. Then, three working moms—that seemingly unlikely audience—who created an online shopping blog titled “The Buy Guide got into the act. Linley Hutchinson, Ashlee LeSueur, Taylor Cannon became instant fans of the Quencher and posted rave reviews to both their blog and corresponding Instagram page in 2017. The Quencher quickly caught on.

Influencers and Instagram

Becoming de-facto influencers, Hutchinson, LeSueur, and Cannon praised everything about the Quencher in their Instagram posts—from its straw to handle, as well as the signature Stanley feature of keeping beverages hot or cold, ending their second post with the words: “Just trust.” There was one development, however, that nearly stopped this emerging viral campaign…

The not-too-impressive initial status of Quencher

As mentioned, sales of the Quencher were at best average. Not many were in stock and Stanley even considered discontinuing production of this particular model. Significantly, Stanley had never enlisted the help of influencers. (Hey, it is a 100+-year-old company, after all, so this concept is new.) Things changed very quickly, and the Quencher experienced a genuine reversal of fortune. How did this happen?

The Quencher rebrand

Together, Hutchinson, LeSueur, and Cannon made the Quencher stand out and get noticed. The most challenging—but creative—task was the rebrand. Originally aimed toward men, these working moms gave the Quencher a makeover that made is as equally—if not more—attractive to women. Different and lighter colors, pastel variations, as well as “themed-Quenchers” for holidays like Valentine’s Day led to a watershed moment for the container. Terrence Reilly, Stanley Global President, explained the ingenuity of these ladies to NBC News: “They had a keen eye for what colors might work for their audience and they were right.” The results?

Thirst for success has been quenched

The rebrand and audience retargeting of the Quencher has been phenomenal. This product has gone from being one of practicality and convenience to status symbol. In the NBC News feature, Ellyn Briggs, a brands analyst for Morning Consult, discussed the passion and quantity of customer feedback that has been posted online and has created an urgency unmatched by any other product.

It seems you can’t have too many Quenchers

In a single purchase, customers are buying not one—but many—Quenchers in as many colors or themes. Briggs stated that this item has become more than a beverage container but an accessory by which many customers identify themselves. (In addition to Instagram, TikTok subscribers have now been showcasing their growing “Quencher collections” on a regular basis.)

Sales of the Quencher

Since the rebrand and remarketing of the Quencher, sales grew from $73 million in 2019 $750 million in 2023—and counting.

Takeaways

Here are points to consider for marketing strategies:

  • It is only January but the success of the Stanley Quencher is definitely the success story of the year where the power of influencer marketing—complemented by the effective social media—is concerned.
  • The importance of staying current and adopting newer methods of marketing cannot be emphasized enough. And the older the company, the more receptive it should be to change. (Reminder: Stanley is over 100 years old.)
  • Finally, this is a lesson about being open to the possibilities of who the “right” audience might be, and, when necessary, applying a brand refresh in order to appeal to a new—and appreciative—customer base.

Have your sales reached a stagnation point? Do you feel that a new and updated look and feel would bring new life to your brand? Contact EGC. We will help revitalize your brand’s presence and reignite customer interest.

(Special thanks to Erin Lagano, EGC Art Director, for suggesting this topic.)