Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably at least heard of the Stanley Cup. And no, we’re not talking about the National Hockey League’s champion trophy.
The Stanley Cup is the newest reusable water bottle trend. In a world full of S’Well’s, Chilly’s and Hydroflasks, the Stanley ‘40oz Quencher Tumbler’ seems to have its new audience of 25-50-year-old women in an absolute chokehold.
But let’s back up. Why exactly is this tumbler so popular, and why does its viral fame have marketers so shook? And more importantly for Luminr, how is it shaking up the search space?
Let’s dive into the background, and see how we got to where we are today.
Going WAY back, Stanley is a 111-year-old company known for its sturdy, steel vacuum-sealed beverage containers that, until recent years, was marketed to blue-collar workers and outdoor enthusiasts – targeting the likes of army vets, road trippers, and campers galore.
The products themselves range in size, shape, and price, with the colloquial ‘Stanley Cup’ being the Quencher H2.0 Flowstate Tumbler in 40oz at £44.99. Promising to keep beverages hot for 7 hours and cold for 11, it is not too dissimilar from other insulated water bottles on the market.
So how has it become the cultural icon that it is today, and how does it translate to search marketing?
It’s not often that a brand’s audience shifts from rugged, working men to primarily women. This can be attributed partly to the female lifestyle space, where the tumbler has become an emblem of ‘it girl’ status.
When the Quencher model was introduced in 2016, three women (Linley Hutchinson, Ashlee Lesueur, and Taylor Cannon), founders of online shopping blog and Instagram ‘The Buy Guide’, were early fans. Stanley caught on to this new area of popularity, partnering with the blog and set up affiliate marketing, which saw sales skyrocket.
Aside from its increasing online presence, the growth is clearly reflected in the numbers. Reportedly, Stanley went from a revenue of $73 million in 2019, to $750 million last year, and appears to only be going up. With the Stanley Cup seemingly everywhere – there are big implications for search.
A recent convert with his white 40 oz Quencher is our own Head of Innovation, James Wolman, who comments on the sensation and its implications for search:
‘The Stanley Cup is a case study in how products can pivot audience and culture seamlessly through its TikTok virality. It’s not the product that changed, but the narrative around it. So how does this fad relate to Luminr and search? Stanley leverages every platform with finesse. It’s a reminder for marketers: Understand your audience’s evolution, embrace new platforms, and watch your brand transform from a niche product into a widespread phenomenon. If you aren’t tracking this craze on all corners of the web, you will miss out on reach, sales and critical search insights. This applies to all brands and businesses, big or small.’
With that, let’s take a closer look at Stanley across the entire searchable web.
Like many other products, the road toward your Stanley Cup begins with the search journey. With its virality on TikTok, and a key pillar of an entire niche (‘WaterTok’), it is the perfect example of having search potential beyond Google.
Using keywordtool.io, we can see the worldwide search volume for the search term ‘stanley cup’.
With competition high and trending increases across all of the above search engines, Google takes the top spot for Stanley search volume, with YouTube trailing closely behind. Top YouTube hits include commentary on the bottle itself, videos of fights breaking out to get the latest edition, and vloggers who have woven the product into their daily routine. Ebay has a decent search volume, accounting for the Stanley secondhand market to secure a cup, often for more than retail price depending on rarity.
Looking at Google trends more specifically, the insights only continue the story of virality over special product drops. Below, we can see an astronomical trend increase, specifically with breakout keyword ‘flamingo stanley cup’, a limited edition colourway of the now iconic tumbler.
But most compelling, and unsurprising, is the search impact on TikTok – with over 2 million searches, just behind Google and YouTube. With a total of 398 keywords and ever-increasing search trend percent, it’s no doubt the water bottle is making waves on the platform. Diving deeper into keywords, we can see once again how limited edition and new releases impact search, with ‘starbucks stanley cup’ having a +15,133% trend increase, causing the more basic keywords to drop.
This may be a direct result of ‘WaterTok’ – a community of TikTokers dedicated to showcasing their (often) huge quencher collections, and filling them up with various flavoured water combinations. The following examples are the two sides of the WaterTok coin:
Viewers of the first clip astutely point out that the boastful Stanley collection will have cost around $600, an astounding price point for the same product, further pointing towards the hunger, or thirst, for every colour and edition.
With the Stanley Cup having a major buzz on TikTok, influencer and user-generated content is naturally part of the equation. Jake Crabb, Marketing Manager of our sister agency Disrupt adds his expert opinion on the topic.
‘The latest product craze to spread through TikTok like wildfire, Stanley Cup’s current virality is perhaps the finest example of user-generated content (UGC) in recent times (move over, Starbucks). What we’re currently witnessing is popularity on a different scale, sweeping through a range of content creator niches. This trend, while it may have begun as a gen-z-led obsession, has transcended and is now simply everywhere. Creators young and old are waxing lyrical about their favourite Quencher colourway, bragging about being able to get their hands on one or mocking the enormity of the product size by carrying huge Stanley-branded water barrels on a treadmill (you have to check some of these out). It’s all golden for Stanley, allowing them to tap into such broad demographics of potential consumers across several platforms. This enables them to reach audiences that may have been previously unattainable.
Stanely’s viral longevity is pretty difficult to determine at the moment. Chances are we’ll all be speaking about something different in a month, so it’s key for Stanley to make the most of their current momentum with UGC. But this craze has set a strong precedent that influencer/creator marketing is as strong as it’s ever been. And is only getting stronger. I’d say watch this space for the next product to take over our timelines!’
The wide demographic of TikTok users is crucial and further demonstrates why considering all search platforms is so important for brands. Looking beyond Google, non-traditional platforms gives us a broader view of where users are, and the competitor landscape.
While Stanley’s newest consumers mainly 25-50 year old women, TikTok has the potential to widen this cohort. For example, Disrupt’s Managing Director Stevie Johnson secured a Quencher tumbler of his own that he and Jake discussed on their upcoming ‘Status Update’ episode. Here’s the podcast clip:
The key here: new platforms. While we may not be able to understand why the product itself is so hyped, we can understand the ways in which the Stanley Cup is stirring things up in the search space.
Luminr looks at the whole picture. No longer Google-centric, the search landscape spans across retailers, entertainment platforms, and social media, with eyes, particularly on TikTok, which Gen Z is using as their primary search engine. There are multiple factors contributing to Stanley’s rise, and its spread across Google, TikTok, YouTube, Amazon and more are helping to sustain it.
Get in touch to discover how Luminr can help your business own search.