(NEXSTAR) — You’ve likely seen a Stanley tumbler recently. Maybe you or someone you know got one for Christmas. Maybe you saw a video online about them, like this one that shows people pouncing on the displays of some limited edition versions. Or maybe, you’re blissfully unaware of the stainless steel tumblers that have taken the internet — and people’s cabinets — by storm.
The tumblers, the Stanley Quenchers, have become the brand’s most popular option, unseating the green thermoses Stanley had largely been known for since its founding over 110 years ago. They’re popular on the resale market too, where limited edition Valentine’s Day Stanley Quenchers are going for well over $100 on eBay.
Police have even warned those who missed out on the aforementioned limited edition tumblers about the online resale market, saying that if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
So how did the Stanley Quencher become such a hot item?
As we mentioned, Stanley has been around for decades. While they’ve had some notable success lately, largely thanks to their Quenchers — those aren’t new either.
The Quencher, a stainless-steel tumbler that comes in five sizes ranging from 14 ounces to 64 ounces, has been available since the mid-2010s. It wasn’t very successful though, and the company stopped stocking it online at one point, Terence Reilly, the global president of Stanley, told The New York Times in 2022.
“The Buy Guide,” an e-commerce blog and Instagram account run by Ashlee LeSueur, Taylor Cannon, and Linley Hutchinson, is largely credited for helping to bring the Quencher back in 2020, according to The New York Times. The trio, after agreeing to buy 5,000 Quenchers from Stanley and selling all of them, struck a deal with the company and continued promoting the product. The overall sales continued to perform well, and, as you may have guessed, more and more people began promoting and posting about their Stanley Quenchers.
There’s some research that helps explain the success of the Quenchers, and the success of other items we’ve seen go viral.
It could be that a blogger or influencer you follow has a Stanley, so you feel inclined to get your own. Maybe they even posted a fun TikTok video about it. It’s that positive content that can fuel a product (or video) to viral success, Liu Liu, an assistant professor of marketing in the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder tells Nexstar. We, as consumers, are often drawn to items we view positively or believe will improve our lives.
“For this Stanley tumbler, it is not just a water bottle,” Liu explains. “It also represents maybe a healthy lifestyle. So if you use this Stanley tumbler, you can think ‘I belong to this group of people who are health-conscious.”
If it’s not the health-conscious aspect for you, maybe it’s that you’re looking to ditch plastic or increase your water intake, Liu adds. This feeds into our identity, whether it’s our real or ideal selves.
Getting a Stanley Quencher (or two, or maybe three) may also give you a sense of identity without you even noticing. If your friends or coworkers are toting around a Stanley, it may increase your desire to have one. As Liu notes, it’s all about brand perception and the value — both as a product and the emotional value we assign it — we get from it.
Some of the Quenchers’ success can also be attributed to the company finding a new segment of consumers that its original thermoses weren’t being marketed to: women.
It is that same audience, however, that could also contribute to the Quencher becoming less popular.
In a TikTok that has been viewed well over 3 million times, Casey Lewis, a trend researcher and founder of the trend newsletter “After School,” explains that the Stanley tumbler is “over” as an “it-accessory.” She says that it’s due to two segments of consumers becoming interested in the Quenchers: millennial moms and young teenagers.
As Lewis explains, Stanley Quenchers were first popular among younger people. But, as they see people both older and younger than them joining the trend, it’s less of a “cool” item to own.
“It’s no longer cool among the early adopters,” she said, pointing to a well-known marketing topic, the Diffusion of Innovation Theory. That theory, developed in the 1960s, explains how an idea or product can gain and lose momentum over time as five different categories of consumers become interested.
The Stanley Quenchers are now in the fourth stage, known as the late majority, in which people are just now becoming interested in the tumbler after the majority has tried it, Lewis says. There is one more group of people, known as the laggards, that will “discover” the tumbler in the coming months and then buy it.
So what’s next? The Stanley Quenchers won’t just disappear. They will likely be around for some time. But as an “it” item, Lewis compares them to Beanie Babies — they may not be very popular. A new water bottle may soon take its place, though, and the Quenchers could join a list of not-as-hot drink containers, like Nalgenes, Yetis, and Hydro Flasks.
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