Stanley Cups Have Become a Viral Sensation and Aren't Slowing Down

Jamie Lerner - Author

Jan. 5 2024, Published 9:13 a.m. ET

After the holidays, we typically see shopping trends go way down, but not when it comes to the Stanley cup (and we’re not talking about the hockey tournament). Stanley, which has been around since 1913, is a cup manufacturer first famous for their longtime classic tumblers. However, the Stanley Quencher has taken over as their most popular cup thanks to mostly female consumers.

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There are many reasons why the Stanley cups went so viral, including the cup surviving a car fire and the shopping craze around it. Videos on TikTok of people unboxing their Stanley cups, showing off their Stanley collections, and camping out for limited edition releases have only fed the Quencher’s buying power. But why did it go viral?

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The Stanley cup went viral because of key partnerships Stanley made to promote its Quencher.

Stanley’s Quencher, a sleek design with a handle and straw that’s easy to drink out of while driving and multi-tasking, was first introduced in 2016. However, Stanley saw little success with their Quenchers and even decided to discontinue the line by 2019. At this point, their overall sales were waning at just $70 million for the year.

Stanley brought on former Crocs Chief Marketing Officer, Terence Reilly, who transformed Crocs from lame into fame. He’s the guy responsible for making Crocs cool. And if he can make Crocs cool, he can make anything cool … including a cup. So he was brought on as the President of Stanley in 2020, when he then did a listening tour with employees around the company, according to CNBC Make It.

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Terence Reilly at the IndieWire Chili Party, presented by Stanley and SAG-AFTRA, held at The Cabin on Jan. 19, 2023
Source: Getty Images

One employee mentioned The Buy Guide, a blog run by a group of women in Utah. The cofounder, Ashlee LeSeur was a big fan of the Quencher after she bought one in 2017. Terence approached Ashlee with an offer — if she made a wholesale order of 5,000 Quenchers and helped sell them to The Buy Guide’s audience, they wouldn’t discontinue the cup.

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The cups sold out in days, so Terence brought Ashlee and The Buy Guide on as partners. “My experience at Crocs told me that that kind of influencer opportunity was just the magic that Stanley might need,” he explained. “And we were right. The Buy Guide proved to be amazing partners and helped us create the Quencher phenomenon.”

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Stanley began rolling out new colors and limited editions of the Quencher while partnering with influencers, celebrities, and other businesses. Its January 2024 limited edition partnership with Starbucks was so successful that the cups sold out in less than a day, with resale Quenchers going for hundreds of dollars on eBay. The market price, however, runs from $45 to $65 depending on the size of the cup.

Stanley cups also went viral because of their durability and personality.

In November 2023, a woman shared a short video on TikTok of her car after it burned in a fire. The car was completely ruined, but her Stanley cup was basically unmarred. In fact, it still had ice in it from the day before … even after the car was on fire! This video was such a boost to Stanley’s sales and reputation of quality that the company gifted her a new Stanley and a new car.

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Stanley’s dedication to environmentalism with its reusable cups, as well as its kindness towards its consumers and appreciation of its female market, have been the perfect recipe for success. 2023 taught us that women have buying power, and the Stanley’s boost in sales to over $700 million is a clear example of that.

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At the same time, some Stanley influencers have received criticism for their large collection of cups, which defeats the purpose of a reusable cup. If you have 50 Stanley cups, you’re actually using more energy than saving.

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Other people have become such a fan of a cup that it’s literally part of their personality. “On the days that I do have extra time, I search for the specific [color] that matches my shirt,” content creator Chelsea Espejo shared. “I wouldn’t even say Stanleys are something I use. They’re actually part of my personality. If I don’t have it, if I don’t choose the right color, my day kind of doesn’t go how I planned it.”

We get that the cups are high-quality and good for the environment, but there should also be a limit to how much power objects have over our everyday lives. So there’s no harm in the craze, just try not to get carried away!

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