How Stanley Became $750M/year DTC Brand

Discover the remarkable journey of the Stanley Quencher, from a humble beginning to becoming a global hydration sensation. Learn how this iconic product transformed Stanley, a 110-year-old brand known for durable drinkware, into a leader in the market. Explore the innovative strategies and collaborations that fueled the Quencher's popularity among a new demographic and propelled Stanley's sales to unprecedented heights. This story of adaptability, strategic marketing, and consumer engagement offers insights into Stanley's success and its impact on the hydration industry.

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For the majority of its 110-year history, Stanley thrived. Renowned for its durable drinkware, it nestled snugly in the gear of adventurers and the lunch pails of blue-collar workers, ensuring beverages stayed piping hot or refreshingly cold for extended periods. With its iconic hammertone green products, the Seattle-based brand cruised along, boasting a comfortable $70 million in annual sales, poised for continued, modest prosperity.

However, in 2020, a shift occurred. Enter the Stanley Quencher, a nascent product that swiftly ascended to prominence, transforming Stanley into a powerhouse. Over the subsequent four years, the Quencher surged to become one of the world's most sought-after water bottles. Available in a growing spectrum of colors and finishes, it turbocharged Stanley's sales, captivating a demographic the brand hadn't previously prioritized: women.

This is the story of how Stanley harnessed the Quencher's success to redefine itself from a century-old establishment into one of hydration's foremost names.

Early days

The Quencher made its debut in 2016 with a little buzz. Priced between $45 and $55, this 40-ounce insulated cup featured a convenient handle for portability and a tapered design tailored to fit snugly into car cup holders.

Despite its practical features, the Quencher failed to gain traction in its initial years. Stanley's perennial best-seller remained the classic green bottle, relegating the Quencher to mediocre sales. By 2019, Stanley ceased restocking and promoting the product altogether.

In 2020, Stanley appointed Terence Reilly as its new president, drawing on his success in revitalizing brands like Crocs during his seven-year tenure there. Upon joining, Reilly embarked on a company-wide listening tour to assess strengths and weaknesses. During this process, an employee highlighted a group of women in Utah who operated a commerce blog called The Buy Guide.

Ashlee LeSueur, co-founder of The Buy Guide, discovered the Quencher in 2017 and became an ardent advocate, recommending it to her followers. Despite her efforts to persuade Stanley to continue production, sales figures didn't meet expectations. However, Stanley proposed an alternative: allowing The Buy Guide to place a wholesale order and sell Quenchers directly to their audience.

The Quenchers sold out rapidly, prompting Reilly to embrace The Buy Guide as a strategic partners. Collaborating closely, they introduced new, attractive colors such as Desert Sage and Cream, further fueling the Quencher's success.

In a remarkable turn, the Quencher surpassed the iconic Stanley bottle as the brand's top-selling product in 2020 and has maintained its dominance ever since.

Hydration domination

With each new hue introduced by Stanley, sales surged. The company's revenue leaped from $73 million in 2019 to $94 million in 2020, then skyrocketed to $194 million in 2021.

In 2022, Stanley unveiled a revamped Quencher model featuring a sleeker design and an expanded palette of colors and finishes. This led to yet another doubling of revenue to $402 million that year.

The introduction of Instagram-friendly pastels transformed the Quencher from a utilitarian item to a fashion statement. As the range of colors expanded—Stanley has now offered the Quencher in over 100 shades—enthusiasts began amassing collections.

Chelsea Espejo, a content creator, discovered the Quencher in 2022 and now boasts a collection of 47 cups. As a fitness enthusiast, she praises the cup's ample size for keeping her hydrated during workouts, not to mention the allure of the vast color options.

Espejo is just one of many who have developed a deep affection for their Quencher. The cup has become a social media sensation, particularly on platforms like TikTok. The #StanleyTumbler hashtag has amassed over 900 million views, with numerous viral videos featuring the product.

Fueling this excitement is Stanley's strategy of releasing new colors in limited-edition drops, promoted through social media channels. Additionally, under Reilly's leadership, the brand has leveraged the Quencher's viral popularity by collaborating with celebrities and other brands.

Indeed, collaborations have played a pivotal role in propelling the popularity of the Stanley Quencher. Often, the Quencher debuts in limited edition colors that vanish from shelves within minutes. A recent partnership with Starbucks yielded a crimson Quencher, fetching hundreds of dollars on eBay mere hours after its release.

Target's unveiling of new Quencher hues prompted some stores to enforce purchase limits, capping customers at two per person to manage demand.

For Quencher enthusiast Emily Fahrlander, obtaining the Starbucks collaboration was a mission. She arrived at her local Starbucks at five in the morning on release day, determined to secure the coveted limited-edition piece.

While maintaining an element of scarcity to sustain excitement, Reilly and the Stanley team are diligently expanding manufacturing capabilities to meet demand as efficiently as possible.

Halo Effect

Stanley has now surpassed the milestone of 10 million Quencher sales, and the demand for the cup shows no signs of slowing down.

The Quencher's social media popularity has not only propelled its success but has also uplifted the entirety of Stanley's product range. Ellyn Briggs, a brands analyst at Morning Consult, notes that the rising popularity of the Quencher benefits the entire brand.

Indeed, Reilly emphasizes that the Quencher trend has positively impacted the entire Stanley brand. He highlights the strong performance of their new products and the resurgence of their traditional offerings, which have regained their prominence in consumer culture.

For Espejo, whose initial exposure to Stanley was through the Quencher, the brand has become a fixture in her home, extending beyond water bottles to include drinking glasses and mugs.

A keen observer will notice that Stanley's product lineup has been influenced by the Quencher's success, with vibrant colors and captivating designs now integrated into both new and existing Stanley offerings.

While Quencher's success was significantly bolstered by its appeal to a new female demographic, Stanley's enduring success over its first 110 years suggests a keen understanding of consumer needs and preferences.


Stanley Quencher's meteoric rise from a modest debut to a global sensation has reshaped Stanley's trajectory, positioning it as a powerhouse in the hydration market. Through strategic collaborations, innovative marketing, and a keen understanding of consumer trends, Stanley successfully harnessed Quencher's success to redefine itself from a century-old establishment into a leader in hydration solutions. As the Quencher continues to dominate sales and influence consumer preferences, it has not only propelled Stanley's growth but has also revitalized the brand's entire product range. With a commitment to meet evolving consumer demands and a legacy of durability and reliability, Stanley's enduring success underscores its adaptability and continued relevance in the ever-changing marketplace.

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