Who would have thought that the standard bearer of keeping cold things cold and hot things hot would become a cultural phenomenon? Yes, we’re talking about the social media darling – Stanley. A Seattle institution, Stanley thermoses have been in the backpacks of hikers and lunchboxes of blue-collar workers for 111 years.
During that time, everyone seemed to be good with the company’s classic hammertone green products. But now, demand has shifted to an ever-growing selection of colors and finishers. The top seller, the Stanley Quencher, has become the top seller in the world. Limited-release Quenchers have nearly caused riots in retail stores as consumers flock to be part of an exclusive collector community. The Quenchers have even found their way into memes on social media.
No one can tell what happened in 2020 to set off the frenzy. But this line of products, targeted to a demographic largely ignored by the company – women – seems to have been the catalyst, taking the company from $70 million to $750 million in revenue in just four years.
It’s not like the Quencher was a new product. It was introduced in 2016 with little interest. The company’s best-seller continued to be its iconic green thermos. Sales were so lackluster that in 2019, Stanley had given up on marketing the Quencher and let existing stocks run out.
It turned out that the company had a hit on its hand without even knowing it. One could say that it was a bit ahead of its time, creating a product that hadn’t found an audience. A partnership with The Buy Guide and a CEO that made Crocs a must-have changed all that. New colors and new distribution channels appeared, as consumer demand. Sales began to take off.
Then, a car caught fire in November 2023. Not really news, but in this case, the car’s owner took photos of the charred remains of her car and posted them to TikTok. There in the cup holder was her orange Stanley tumbler. It still had ice in it. The post on social media has 60 million views and counting.
Touched by the story, Stanley not only offered to send her some new cups, but a new car.
“Stanley has your back ❤️,” the company wrote in the caption of its post.
It’s refreshing to see that innovation – a hallmark of Washington businesses – is still alive and well in a 111-year-old company that has been all about health and hydration long before it was fashionable.