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Case Study: Stanley and the Remarkable Story of the Quencher Tumbler

The story of Stanley and its Quencher tumbler is a great story of marketing success–and good luck. The mug is not cheap (the image at the left is from REI’s website where the 40 oz. tumbler retails for $45). A great example of a brand that generated lots of value through all 4 Ps. With the helps of ChatGPT4 (I want to give it credit as it is a partner, though one that you have to work with closely to make sure the output is useful), I present a mini case study of Stanley. The case may be especially relevant to our students, as this brand targets the demographic most fall into.

This case draws on five articles that you can link through to or assign to your students: 1) “How a 40-ounce cup turned Stanley into a $750 million a year business,” CNBC, December 23, 2023, 2) “The rise of the Stanley tumbler: How a 110-year-old brand achieved viral success,Retail Dive, November 14, 2023, 3) “Social Media Analysis: Stanley’s Path to Social Media Success with Influencer Marketing,” Captiv8 Blog, November 21, 2023, 4) “After fire destroys woman’s car, but not her Stanley tumbler, company steps up,” USA Today, November 20, 2023, and 5) “Ice Cool: Viral Water Bottle Is Outhyping NHL’s Stanley Cup,” chartr, January 10, 2024.

Background and Initial Strategy: Stanley, a company with a century-long history, was known for its durable drinkware targeted at outdoorsmen and blue-collar workers. With annual sales hovering around $70 million, the brand was synonymous with rugged, reliable products. The company’s initial strategy revolved around its iconic, utility-focused products, which had secured a stable, albeit niche, market position.

Introduction of the Quencher: The game-changer for Stanley was the introduction of the Quencher tumbler in 2016. Initially, the Quencher did not make a significant impact, overshadowed by the brand’s traditional offerings. It was only when Terence Reilly, former Crocs executive, joined as president and initiated a fresh marketing approach that the Quencher’s potential was realized. He tapped into influencer marketing, starting with a partnership with The Buy Guide, which played a pivotal role in repositioning the Quencher.

Target Market Shift and Marketing Tactics: The Quencher’s resurgence was marked by a strategic shift in Stanley’s target market. The brand expanded its focus to include women, a demographic previously not emphasized. Influencer partnerships and social media campaigns were instrumental in this transition. This new direction was not just about introducing new products but reimagining the brand’s identity and appeal.

Revenue Growth and Brand Transformation: As a result of these efforts, Stanley’s sales skyrocketed. The Quencher, once a sidelined product, became a sensation, contributing to an exponential increase in revenue. By appealing to a broader audience and creating a buzz around the product, especially through limited-edition releases and collaborations, Stanley transformed from a reliable but modest brand into a fashionable, must-have accessory.

Quick Social Media Response to Opportunity: The durability of Stanley’s products was inadvertently showcased in a viral social media incident where a woman’s Stanley tumbler survived a car fire. This incident not only emphasized the product’s quality but also provided Stanley with an opportunity for positive brand reinforcement. The company’s response, offering to replace the woman’s car, was a masterstroke in public relations, further enhancing its image as a customer-centric and responsive brand. See that response below.


#stitch with @Danielle Stanley has your back ❤️

♬ original sound – Stanley 1913

Discussion Questions and Answers

  1. Target Market Expansion (Chapter 2 and 4):
    • Question: How did expanding the target market influence Stanley’s growth?
    • Answer: By targeting women, Stanley accessed a new customer base, increasing sales and brand visibility. The risk of alienating existing customers was outweighed by the benefits of expanded market reach.
  2. Influencer Marketing Impact (Chapter 16):
    • Question: Assess the effectiveness of influencer marketing for Stanley.
    • Answer: Influencer marketing created a more personal and authentic brand connection, differing from traditional methods in its direct engagement with consumers.
  3. Product Differentiation (Chapter 2):
    • Question: How did Stanley differentiate the Quencher?
    • Answer: The Quencher stood out through unique design and color options, evolving from a utility item to a fashion accessory, thereby appealing to a broader audience.
  4. Social Media Utilization (Chapter 16):
    • Question: Analyze Stanley’s use of social media in its marketing strategy.
    • Answer: Stanley effectively used social media for brand promotion, capitalizing on viral content to enhance brand awareness and engagement.
  5. Customer Engagement (Chapters 1, 4, 16):
    • Question: What does Stanley’s response to the viral video reveal about customer engagement?
    • Answer: Stanley’s proactive response to the viral incident illustrates the importance of customer-centric approaches and building brand loyalty through engagement.
  6. Innovation in Marketing (Chapter 1 and 16):
    • Question: Discuss the role of innovation in Stanley’s marketing.
    • Answer: Stanley’s embrace of digital trends and influencer marketing highlights the necessity for continuous innovation in adapting to changing consumer behaviors and technological advancements.

Through this comprehensive case study, we gain insights into Stanley’s strategic shift in marketing, highlighting the impact of audience expansion, influencer engagement, and the effective use of social media in modern marketing practices.

Do you like this more extended case study? It was a little easier for me to produce with the help of ChatGPT, though it is still hours of work. I can provide more of these if you find them useful. Let me know in the comments or send me an email at Joe[dot]Cannon[at]colostate[dot]edu.

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