An Old Product Released Anew Becomes a Short-Form Video Sensation
YouTube would really like it if I would watch more short-form videos. Its algorithm pushes shorts relentlessly, and their phone app in particular is set up to channel viewers towards watching shorts. For example, the default search setting on the phone app returns only short videos. If I want to search for longer form content, I need to actively change the settings. Insight to Action wrote about this competitive focus in “Growth Strategy in Marketing TikTok.”
As a result of this manipulation, I end up wasting time scrolling through shorts a lot more than I would like. YouTube has my number, though: they provide me with videos that appeal to my desire to learn about practical skills I need or will need, such as cooking or parenting. The parenting shorts are how I learned about this week’s new product example: the Stanley Quencher FlowState.
New Product Example:
Watch the Video
In the video that introduced me to Stanley, a mom in her late twenties explained how she bought the Stanley Quencher as a Christmas gift for her elementary schooler. She noted that she had also been introduced to the cups through TikTok short video.
This video showcases many of the key features of this new product example: the Stanley Quencher H2.0 FlowState (hereafter referred to as the Quencher) has become popular among Millennial women (i.e., the early thirties mom), who share the cup on social media (in this case, YouTube shorts or TikTok).
The Stanley Quencher was actually pulled in 2019 and re-released in 2020, making this perhaps not so much a new product example as a renewed product example. In any case, the viral story of the Stanley is fascinating, and though it ends in short-form video, it does not begin there.
New Product Example from a Classic Brand
Stanley has been selling insulated thermoses, mugs, food containers, and more for over 100 years, since 1913. In 2017, their Quencher cup was included on a blog called The Buy Guide. NYT attributes the beginning of the Quencher’s virality to The Buy Guide, writing that the rise of the cup:
“largely owed to three women: Ashlee LeSueur, 42… Taylor Cannon, 34… and Linley Hutchinson, 36… Ms. LeSueur and Ms. Cannon, who are sisters, and Ms. Hutchinson, their cousin, run The Buy Guide.”
It was actually LeSueur and her relatives who convinced Stanley to start selling the cup again, in a new line of colors designed to appeal to millennials.
TikTok Takes Viral to an Entirely New Level in this New Product Example
At this point, viral marketing of the Quencher has extended far beyond The Buy Guide. Indeed, while The Buy Guide is a popular blog (according to Money.com, “LeSueur says about 60,000 people a day head to their website”), it cannot match the reach of a social media site like TikTok, where videos about the Stanley Quencher get millions of views. After making a TikTok account in order to gather information for this article (a writer’s sacrifice), I searched “Stanley Quencher” on TikTok. The first page of results had 12 videos. All 12 were about the Stanley Quencher H2.0 FlowState, with an average viewcount of about 700,000 views per video. The most popular video I saw had two million views. I would argue that while The Buy Guide discovered the Stanley Quencher and convinced Stanley to begin stocking the cup again, we cannot imagine a similar trajectory for this new product example without the existence of viral short-form video services like TikTok.
It would be misleading, therefore, to suggest that the viral popularity of this new product example can be completely emulated by other brands. It is impossible to completely control what can go viral on the internet, and there is no central Stanley marketing officer who is hiring thousands of Millennial moms to make TikToks about their favorite mugs. Indeed, the transformation of the Stanley brand identity, which I will discuss below, suggests that the 21st century market is extremely chaotic. Stanley had a consistent brand identity for 100 years, which was unsettled to a certain extent by the viral popularity of one of its new products among a novel demographic.
New Product Example:
Demographic Segment Takes Brand by Surprise
This new product example, and specifically its re-release, demonstrates how a new product that reaches a new demographic segment can transform the identity of an entire brand. Insight to Action has chronicled the expansion of a somewhat similar brand, YETI, in a brand strategy case study. Similarly, I myself wrote a growth strategy example about the way in which UGG boots were able to expand their brand identity into clothing. However, both of these examples differ from this new product example, because in this case, a new product has accessed a new demographic segment and completely transformed the brand identity, where UGG and YETI were more focused on expanding their brand identity into adjacent categories.
Stanley Adapts to Millennial Customer Segment
In the case of Stanley, there are a few ways that the brand identity has changed in response to this new product example. First, the brand is now oriented much more towards a female Millennial demographic. Second, Stanley is now pushing products meant for urban/everyday use, as opposed to use by backpackers and hunters. Third, Stanley has even changed the color of the products it puts out to appeal to this new demographic. Let’s discuss each of these points in more depth.
First, Stanley took a number of steps to appeal to a female millennial demographic. I will discuss color of products below, as it is perhaps the most striking way that this change occurred, but it went much deeper. As the authors of The Buy Guide note, Stanley actually re-designed its website in order to appeal to a more internet-savvy audience. The Buy Guide authors write,
“For the November 2020 launch, the Stanley team created a completely new web site and enhanced their customer service. They hustled and made huge improvements to the consumer experience.”
The website redesign speaks to the way in which the Stanley brand had to come into the 21st century era of more sophisticated online retailing.
The authors of The Buy Guide also anticipated the second way that Stanley could transform its brand by reaching a new audience with this new product example. They write,
“When we first began talking with the Stanley team, we suggested daily use items that look as beautiful on kitchen countertops as they do at a campsite would not only make our target market happy, but would be a lucrative move for their business.”
The focus on “daily use items” does indeed seem to characterize Stanley’s new brand identity. According to Marketplace.org, Stanley’s CEO has commented:
“while Stanley planned to still advertise to the outdoorsman, it would also stylishly focus on this missed audience of women on the go, who need their cold drinks to last all day.”
This transformation of what was once a more hardcore or exclusively functional brand to the everyday setting dovetails with larger trends such as the rise of athleisure. More and more, people are using athletic products in a day-to-day setting and for broader purposes.
The final effect this new product example has had on Stanley’s brand identity overall is visible in the image above, pulled from the front page of the Stanley website on May 2, 2023. For a long time, Stanley was known for their iconic green thermoses, which appealed to their outdoorsy customer base. In the image above, however, we see three beige thermoses and one light pink cup (the author of this article, for the record, would only consider pale pink a suitable purchase option). Each thermos also has more color options below, most of which are other pastels. Millennials are known for their preference for pastel colors (the WSJ attributes this to a more fluid approach to gender), and clearly Stanley is featuring colors that appeal to this Millennial demographic. Beyond the new product example of the Quencher FlowState, Stanley is transforming its entire brand in response to this new market.
New Product Example:
Higher Demand Equals Higher Prices
A side note on what we can see above… look at the effect of virality on pricing! The Quencher H2.0 FlowState is selling for $50! An Amazon search for 40 OZ tumblers returns mostly options in the $20-30 price range. Stanley is a high-quality brand which is both dishwasher safe and very effective at keeping drinks hot and cold, which is an unusual combination, but it still seems safe to say that customers are willing to pay a premium for this new product example.
New Product Example:
Undeniable Success for Stanley
Finally, let’s consider for a moment the impact that this new product example has had on Stanley’s business. According to Marketplace.org, “there was a 275% increase in Quencher H2.0 FlowState Tumbler sales” in 2022. This is especially striking because the global thermos market saw a significant slump during COVID, growing at only 2.43%. Insight to Action has previously published an article on the growth of the reusable water bottle market, noting that this market is expected to grow, and in the future thermoses are expected to recover. However, Stanley’s performance, especially in 2021, is remarkable against the backdrop of an otherwise somewhat cool market. The brand has been able to grow its business massively, and as seen above, it can sell products at a higher price point, due to viral popularity.
This new product example showcases the way in which viral word-of-mouth marketing of a new product can transform a brand identity and achieve growth even in tough times.
As I have noted a few times throughout this article, the new product example of the Stanley Quencher relates to many themes that Insight to Action has covered extensively in our articles, from the market size of reusable water bottles, to brand identity expansion such as we have seen for both the YETI and UGG brands. If these themes resonate with your ambitions for your own brand, reach out to the experts at Insight to Action. Our resources page features more articles about new products, growth strategy, and more. You can also sign up for our newsletter, or visit our office hours to speak with a member of our team.