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Why are Stanley cups so popular and selling for hundreds of dollars?

Regular 40-ounce Stanley tumblers go for $40–$57, but the limited editions are fetching $200–$300 on resale sites.
Why are Stanley cups so popular and selling for hundreds of dollars?
Posted at 5:28 PM, Jan 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-04 19:41:13-05

Ask a millennial or a Gen-Zer about their go-to water cup, and chances are it's a Stanley.  

Limited Valentine's Day edition 40-ounce Stanley tumblers in pink and red flew off shelves this week at Target and Starbucks, with fans lined up as early as 3 a.m.; the cups sold out in minutes. As of today, the only available cups from this release can be found on resale sites, with prices ranging from $200 to $300.

So, why are these Stanley cups so popular and selling for hundreds of dollars? According to experts, it all comes down to how they're marketed.

Camille Moore, a marketing and strategy expert and the president of the marketing agency Third Eye Insights, explained to Scripps News that this is next-level marketing. It's not just about making commercials; it's about understanding what the consumer wants and letting their word-of-mouth, or in this case, social media posts, do all the advertising work.

“They developed this product in a way that made sense of what the consumer wants. It has a handle, it's got a straw, it's easier to drink out of, it's trendy with millennial colors, and it’s what customers wanted because it's better than a regular water bottle,” said Moore. “So, it's been all the craze because they did marketing, right? They created a great product as opposed to investing in an insane TV commercial.”

And Moore is not wrong; a big part of this success is thanks to the product going viral, especially on TikTok, where videos tagged with "#StanleyTumbler" have racked up over 970 million views. This unexpected fame turned a once overlooked item into a sought-after product.

Surprisingly, the $40–$57 water bottle isn't a new thing. Stanley, around since 1913 and initially geared towards working men, hit a turning point in 2016 with the introduction of the 40-ounce "Quencher" tumbler. Although it didn't become an instant hit, things changed in a few years.

In 2019, the company made a decent $73 million in revenue, but in the following year, projections shot up to $94 million, and then it more than doubled in 2021 to $194 million. By 2023, according to CNBC, the company had projected an impressive $750 million in revenue, and the numbers keep growing.

Recently, the Stanley tumbler craze got even bigger when Danielle Lettering shared a video of her cup surviving a car fire with ice still inside. The company's president noticed and offered her a new car and, of course, a new tumbler. 

Many people were impressed by Stanley's exceptional response and customer service, making the cup even more desirable.

"Good marketing is simple; it's rooted in having a great product. And if your product can withstand a catastrophic event that you couldn't plan for, those are the opportunities that you look forward to in having a great brand, and that's how they've lasted over 100 years because their product is great," said Moore. 

So, cheers to Stanley for standing the test of time, and to you reading this, good luck finding your perfect cup!


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