How Going Viral Helped Boost the Sales of These Social Media-Famous Tumblers

Stanley tumblers have gone from targeting blue collar workers and campers to catering to females after a car fire TikTok video led to the brand going viral.

By 2019, the now-famous tumblers were increasingly difficult to find, but that all changed thanks to an online shopping blog and a viral trend. 

Despite the craze that has been dominating social media in recent years, tumblers are nothing new. In fact, they have been around for decades, having become a staple among those who enjoy the outdoors. These days, it seems that tumblers have gone beyond being staples for hikers and campers. They seem to be everywhere. 

Today, they can be found in schools, offices, gyms, malls, and wherever else. They come in different colors and sizes, and it’s not uncommon for someone to have more than one color of the same model. Many brands have popped up in recent years as well, offering tumblers that do not leak and can keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold for hours, even days. 

While it is not a new brand by any means, Stanley is at the forefront of this tumbler craze. However, it wasn’t always the case. Believe it or not, it even removed its now-famous Quencher tumbler from its website at one point. It was once very difficult to get a Quencher from Amazon or in other stores.  

This is hard to believe, especially when you consider how Quencher sales saw a 275% year-over-year increase in 2023. So how did the brand reach this level of success? 

The Beginning of Stanley

Despite the fact that the tumbler craze started just a few years ago, Stanley has been around far longer than that. In fact, it was founded by physicist William Stanley Jr. In his lifetime, William Stanley was granted 129 patents, including the patent for an all-steel vacuum bottle. 

“In 1913, he fused vacuum insulation and the strength of steel in one portable bottle, inventing the all-steel vacuum bottle we know and love today,” Stanley says on its company website. “In the century since, his vacuum bottle evolved from concept to icon and has become an essential part of workdays, road trips and outdoor adventures.” 

The Stanley tumblers initially targeted blue-collar workers as well as those who enjoy the outdoors. However, it eventually became increasingly difficult to find the 40-ounce Stanley Quencher in stores despite the rise in popularity of similar brands. In fact, the company admitted that they stopped prioritizing the Quencher in order to focus on other products. 

The Buy Guide 

That all changed in 2019 thanks to The Buy Guide, an online shopping blog. Its founders, Linley Hutchinson, Ashlee LeSueur, and Taylor Cannon, were fans of the tumbler and eventually sold it on their platform. The product sold out on The Buy Guide each time it was posted, but the fact that the tumblers were becoming so hard to find proved to be a problem. 

Their initial efforts to get in touch with the company behind the tumblers proved unsuccessful, but their luck eventually changed thanks to Emily Maynard Johnson. Johnson, who appeared on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, received a Stanley tumbler from The Buy Guide and shared both the tumbler and the blog on her Instagram Stories. 

This got the attention of the company, and one of its employees got in touch with the founders of The Buy Guide. Due to the fact that the company did not participate in affiliate marketing at that time, it struck a wholesale deal with the shopping blog instead. 

We were able to put in a purchase order with Stanley and buy 5,000 cups on our own,” the founders share on their blog. “Scary.” 

The first 5,000 Stanley tumblers were sold by The Buy Guide within four days. The founders bought another 5,000, which sold out in an hour.

Going Viral Even More 

By the time the Quencher was reintroduced on the Stanley website in 2020, the tumbler now came in more color options, particularly pastels. Thanks to the advice of The Buy Guide, the company likewise began participating in affiliate marketing and began working with influencers who target the female audience. 

These influencers kept the Quencher visible on social media, and a TikTok subculture called #WaterTok shone the spotlight on the tumbler frequently. But what ultimately led to the rise in fame that led to the Stanley craze wasn’t an influencer, but a car fire. 

@danimarielettering

Thirsty after you catch on fire? @Stanley 1913 is like no problem i gotchu #fyp #carfire #accident #stanleycup

♬ original sound – Danielle

In November 2023, a TikTok user with the handle @danimarielettering posted a video of her wrecked car, which caught on fire. The only object inside the vehicle that survived was her Quencher tumbler, which still had ice in it. The TikTok video rapidly went viral and, as of writing, has 96.7 million views on the social media platform. 

@stanleybrand

#stitch with @Danielle Stanley has your back ❤️

♬ original sound – Stanley 1913

Stanley took notice of this viral TikTok, and the company president, Terence Reilly, offered in a separate TikTok video to send her free tumblers and a new car. This TikTok also went viral, reaching 57.2 million views as of writing. 

What Can Be Learned from Stanley

Today, Stanley tumblers have gone a long way from being a staple for blue collar workers and outdoorsy folks. It has become a status symbol, and many fans have gone on to collect the same tumbler in different colors. 

The success the brand now enjoys can be attributed to their capacity to take advantage of viral moments. This is very apparent with how the company dealt with the car fire TikTok, which led to millions of impressions and millions in sales. 

However, going viral is something that comes and goes, and it can be challenging to sustain the fame of being viral. However, what has allowed Stanley to continue being relevant lies in two things. 

First, the product itself. Stanley has always claimed that its Quencher tumblers are capable of keeping hot drinks hot for seven hours. In addition, cold drinks stay cold for 11 hours, while iced drinks won’t lose their ice for two days. 

The car fire TikTok video highlighted the durability of the Quencher, which was able to preserve the ice inside it despite the heat of the fire. The proof of durability provided by the video gave fans the guarantee that the tumbler is worth the money. After all, not even fire can melt the ice inside. 

Second, the company eventually discovered who its real target market was and tailored its strategies to cater to women. Despite initially shying away from affiliate marketing, Stanley eventually began to work with female influencers who cater to a female audience, and even released tumblers in colors appealing to women. 

This goes to show the importance of properly identifying the brand’s market and understanding what appeals to them and what doesn’t. Having this understanding gives the right direction that a brand needs to have the right kind of products and marketing strategies to grow the business.