Dissecting the Stanley Craze

February 22, 2024

Chances are, you’ve heard about the Stanley cup craze. No, we’re not talking about the NHL championship trophy. We’re talking about the 40-ounce drink tumblers that people can’t seem to get enough of.

In the beginning of January, Starbucks and Stanley collaborated on a limited-edition tumbler that was exclusively available at Target — and in limited quantities. People camped out overnight to be amongst the first in line, and even fought each other over the coveted cups once inside. Needless to say, they sold out almost immediately across the country. And now, they’re selling for more than $200 on marketplaces like eBay — a huge increase over the $49.95 in-store price.

But what led to this obsession with the oversized drink ware? Let’s dive a little deeper…

The Stanley brand is not new. It’s been around since 1913, and has long had a reputation for quality and durability. But until recently, their products were mostly popular amongst men. In 2020, the brand harnessed the power of social media to attract a new target audience: women. Stanley partnered with female influencers, changed up its content to be more visually captivating, and showcased user-generated testimonials. Stanley also changed up their signature dark-green products and unveiled more “female-friendly” colors and designs, including pastels, tie-dye and metallic prints.

The new look — coupled with the brand’s sterling reputation and social media tactics — made a splash with consumers. In 2019, Stanley’s sales hovered around $73 million — they reached $750 million in 2023. In 2021 alone, Stanley reported a 250 percent increase in direct-to-consumer sales, with a 150 percent increase in e-commerce sales over the prior year.

The hype has been going strong for years — and the popularity surrounding Stanley likely won’t go away any time soon. By associating its products with aspirational lifestyles and experiences, the brand has cultivated an emotional connection with its consumers, fostering brand loyalty and affinity. The Stanley story showcases the power of social media. It’s also proof that understanding the values and needs of the target audience — and evolving the product accordingly — can yield amazing results.