The best drink container in the world of drink containment is the plastic cup with the flexible straw that hospital staff give you in the maternity ward after you have a baby. It’s lightweight, has an easy-to-hold handle, and while it’s not the most attractive summer accessory, it packs a whole lot of DietCokeImeanwater.
But after each delivery, inevitably, tragedy strikes and the mug disappears into the chaos of the new baby dom. Getting a replacement means another nine more months of pregnancy and thousands of dollars in medical bills, so many thirsty moms (and dads) find themselves hunting for the second-best drink container in the beverage containment world.
For my money, it’s the Stanley, a water bottle that has become a deep-rooted phenomenon in the Beehive State.
Pass by any pool in Utah this summer and you’ll spot a sea of brightly colored 40-ounce mugs perched next to parents in lounge chairs, filled with ice and DietCokeImean water. You’ll see them in every stroller in the zoo and on every bench in the park.
The Stanleys are infiltrating our population. The rise in popularity has been so meteoric that the New York Times recently published an article about the mug.
The other day I was picking up my kid from a play date with a friend from church and I wasn’t sure I got the right home. Then I looked out the kitchen window and saw one of those Stanley cups on the counter and I knew: this was a Mormon house. https://t.co/bdEBvDIEjp
— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) May 18, 2022
To be more specific, the mug is actually called Adventure Quencher Travel Tumbler and is sold on Stanley’s website for $40. But those who own and use the containers simply call them Stanley Cups, or to avoid confusion among hockey fans (sko Avs), Stanley Cups, or simply Stanleys.
The cup itself is good. Arguably the best on the market aside from the aforementioned hospital cup. It has a wide, sturdy straw, an Instagram-friendly color, and a cup-holder-friendly bottom half. The side handle allows the sipper to hang freely between the fingers, a big improvement over other containers that require a full palm grip. The Stanley is bright. It’s easy. It’s big. It keeps drinks cold longer than any rational mind would have thought possible. It goes in the dishwasher.
But, it’s perhaps the Stanley’s rarity that makes it the hottest new trend among Utah moms and a growing mug-haver community nationwide.
I’m in a group of Stanley cups on fb and it’s crazy, I guess there are rare colors and people are paying $200+ for a $40 cup. I’m not in the same tax bracket as these ladies,
— Rachel Hill (@rachhill_) June 16, 2022
One cannot simply log on to Stanley’s website and order the 40-ounce Adventure Quencher travel tumbler. The product is listed as sold out at all times except for the first few hours of a Quencher drop-off day, which occurs every few months. A user should refresh the web page until the 40 ounce cup is marked as available and order the cup in their preferred color as soon as possible. It’s an adrenaline-pumping experience, making a Stanley Cup a badge of honor for anyone who holds one – proof that they’ve lived the experience. Like an “I survived Alcatraz” t-shirt.
I own four of the cuts, which I consider a testament to both my tenacity and my susceptibility to being sucked in by influencer trends.
I ordered my first Stanley out of spite. I expected disappointment. I assumed the cups could never live up to the hype, and was ready to tell anyone who wanted to listen that they weren’t worth the hassle or price. I planned to make being anti-Stanley a major part of my personality and online presence because really, few things in life provide a sense of superiority quite like not liking something that everyone else do. But much to the chagrin of the contrarian in me, I loved the mug. And ordered three more. Now not a day goes by that I don’t use at least one of my Stanleys. I keep two at work – one for water and one for soda, and two at home – one for water and one for soda. I can fit nearly three cans of Diet Coke in a Stanley and two huge scoops of ice cream that stay solid for an entire day. In trying to prove a point, I became one of the masses I thought I knew better.
Pass by any pool in Utah this summer and you’ll spot a sea of brightly colored 40-ounce mugs perched next to parents in lounge chairs, filled with ice and DietCokeImean water.
Parody videos on TikTok and Instagram poke fun at the Utah mom with her Lulu Lemon leggings, a van full of kids, unique names for said kids, her Goldendoodle and the Stanley Cup forever in the cup holder.
But the Stanley’s ubiquity speaks to the marketing power of those Utah moms, many of whom are influencers, who are driving the Stanley craze. These same moms have been mocked in reels and TikToks are building empires, moving markets and pushing products onto the pages of The New York Times.
It was after seeing a few influencers holding Stanleys in their incredibly clean kitchens surrounded by well-groomed children that the mugs first hit my radar. After my own reluctant conversion, I proselytized the cup on my diet, as did those I had convinced. These are economic influences and are the key to a sound marketing plan.
Stanley uses an affiliate model, offering influencers a commission on each sale. Yes. It might come as a bit of a shock to learn that the woman on Instagram you’re in a parasocial relationship with actually gets a cut of the sales on the products she tells you she can’t live without. But the good news is that we’ve been in influencer marketing for a decade, and anyone who’s spent a minute online can tell when an online celebrity is less than enthusiastic about the product they’ve been told to sell. Because most influencers cannot act, their enthusiasm for a product can and should be believed. And all the influencers seem really excited to own one or 19 Stanleys.
“We knew (the Stanley) needed to be discussed and demonstrated,” Alpine resident Linley Hutchinson tells The Buy Guide. “These influencers really take the time to respond to their audience. They know what their subscribers want and need to hear.
It took a bit of convincing from the women of The Buy Guide – Hutchinson who lives in Alpine, Utah, and her two cousins Ashlee LeSeuer (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Taylor Cannon (Purchase, New York) – for Stanley pivots to this marketing model. “They weren’t selling to women,” Hutchinson says, explaining that the best way to sell to women is through Instagram. “That’s how (mums) shop these days. We don’t have time to browse the Internet. It’s so nice to be able to hop on social media and be told what to buy. She says she and her partners knew there was an army of women out there who would love the cup as much as they did.
perhaps it’s the Stanley’s rarity that makes it the hottest new trend among Utah moms and a growing mug-haver community nationwide.
The Stanley Cup was one of the first Hutchinson, LeSeur and Cannon products featured on The Buy Guide. When they learned that Stanley was planning to shut down the Adventure Quencher, they tried to contact company executives to talk them out of it. Just in time, Emily Maynard of “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” fame posted a photo with the Stanley. The Buy Guide had sent him the mug during his first influencer marketing campaign.
Lauren Solomon, director of sales at Stanley, saw Maynard’s position and immediately recognized the profit potential. So she contacted The Buy Guide. Understanding the Buy Guide’s vision, Solomon helped the women buy 5,000 mugs to sell to their followers. They sold all 5,000 cups in five days. Solomon advocated for The Buy Guide until Stanley agreed to join an affiliate platform.
Stanley has sold hundreds of thousands of Stanley Cups since rolling out affiliate marketing. Sales of the Adventure Quencher are up 275% year over year, and the waiting list for the cup has nearly 100,000 names.
If you’ve been trying to get your hands on Stanley’s Adventure Quencher viral travel cup – along with the other 135,000 on its waiting list – the wait is finally over! https://t.co/dXqpPSuXkf
— Hello America (@GMA) June 1, 2022
Matt Navarro, vice president of global sales at Stanley, said The Buy Guide offered unique reach and insight into a new consumer that Stanley hadn’t previously had access to. “We focused on supplying large quantities in stylish, on-trend colors, and as soon as we launched them on our site, they sold out within minutes,” says Navarro. “Reaching this new consumer audience has been incredible for us and is the result of great people and great partners.”
Like all trends, the Stanley Adventure Quencher craze will eventually fade and people on Instagram will switch to the new influencer must-have household item. But Utah citizens will have cupboards full of chambray, grapefruit and bush colored mugs that they will continue to take to the pool, zoo and park as long as the insulation holds. The Stanleys will be with us for a long time.
And me ? This morning it was another drop and I pulled the trigger on cup #5.