How the Stanley mug, at 110-years-old, used marketing to see a 275% increase in sales and become a 2024 must-have.

Posted on January 9, 2024 Categories: Blog

As marketeers we’ve been fascinated by the re-rise of the Stanley brand. We’re sure you’ll have seen someone with a Stanley mug lately, maybe you even own one yourself? 

But do you know the brands background and what’s happened to make it the must-have way to hydrate in 2024?

First launched over 100 years ago, it was originally marketed to workmen and people who were outdoorsy. But the power of marketing has meant it’s now unlocked the clout of marketing to women in the 25-50 age group.

The cup is such a simple product. We speak a lot about how if you have a simple product like this, bottled water, or a loaf of bread, for example, you need to target people carefully to ensure they choose you and that you attract a real following. That’s even harder to achieve if you are marketing to a new audience after being known for over 100 years as something else.

Somehow (clever marketing) they’ve managed to appeal to both.

In recent years, through influencer marketing amongst other things, they’ve grown to over 717k followers on Instagram and amassed almost 1 million followers on TikTok. Their video views and searches have totalled hundreds of millions.

Women marketing to women is powerful. It’s relatable. Stanley updated their Instagram and website to show women enjoying a coffee, strolling, exercising, and socialising with their cups. Not only that, but the cups were also produced in new neutral and pastel colours.

As recently as 2012, Stanley mentioned in interview that its products resonated with “a 30-year-career veteran policeman” and “a retired Army soldier.”

One Instagram page in particular, The Buy Guide, had a big role to play in 2017 in the cups pivot in audience. Sharing it with their followers as a recommended must-have led to it selling out. But Stanley still didn’t prioritise producing more, or forming an official partnership with the ladies behind The Buy Guide.

The women took a risk and ordered 10,000 of the cups at wholesale, as they were advised to do by Stanley. They sold out in four days.

Stanley at the time were going through a change in management and one of the new leaders had a marketing background and saw the opportunity. Women spend on average 25% more than men per shopping trip and it is estimated that women drive 70-80% of consumer purchasing decisions. 94% of women aged 15-35 spend an average of over an hour each day shopping online. Oops, we may be guilty on this one!

Basically, marketing to women, even if you are a product for men, is important.

From here, Stanley began to utilise affiliate marketing and influencer marketing. This built significant trust in the product from their new audience. It led to word of mouth spreading and huge amounts of user generated content on social media.

What’s important to note here? Something we always say – being willing to shift your focus and adjust when you need to.

Stanley could have stuck to their original message and not explored this market at all. But they would have missed out on so much, and so many people would never have discovered their practical, quality product that has stood such a test of time.

They’re now firmly in the modern era of marketing. Hydration and healthy habits are a key wellbeing message in today’s society, and the Stanley cup fits in perfectly with doing this in a stylish and satisfying way. It also ties in to the rise in eco-conscious consumers.

Sure, we could all hydrate from a glass in our cupboard, or a clear plastic bottle, but a nice coloured, sturdy Stanley, is more motivating and fulfilling. We speak all the time about how that emotional connection to a product, and how it makes us feel, is vital.

The brand have found that people are purchasing more than one as well. Women are choosing to own multiple colours, or one for hot drinks and one for cold, one for home, one for the gym and one for work. Stanley recognised this and now does limited editions and collaborations which quickly sell out. Nobody wants to have FOMO!

This year, Stanley has seen a 275% year-over-year increase in Quencher sales and has experienced a 215% increase in their hydration products overall, according to Matt Navarro, Senior Vice President at Stanley.

It is a busy market, and no doubt the rise of Stanley in recent years will have led to their competitors making plans of their own, whether they choose to directly compete or explore other products themselves. 

Stanley know that just bringing out new colours won’t be enough, they’ll need innovative new products as well. This case study shows the importance of listening to what people want and listening to your audience. It shows that even after 100-years of success, you cannot rest on your laurels in business.

Refs: RetailDive, Girl Power Marketing, Forbes, Stanley