Hardly anyone really needs a giant, 40 ounce insulated tumbler – and yet the Quencher has helped Stanley grow its annual revenue from $70 million to over $750 million in four years, according to CNBC. The video of shoppers snatching up the limited edition red Valentine’s Day cups at Target has gone viral, and there is a robust and uncontrolled secondary market  for these water bottles. Quite a feat for a 110 year old company!

What lessons can independent retailers learn from this phenomenon? It clearly demonstrates that social media can be very powerful, especially when it comes to influencing teens and women. The price was also right for creating a buying frenzy: under $50, and therefore affordable to a large segment of the population.

The brand focused on the health aspects of their product, and how the cup encouraged drinking more water.  Providing a way to decrease dependence on plastic water bottles and to increase daily water intake were perfect messages for today’s consumer. There are many large reusable water bottles that can make these same claims, however the Quencher solves one more problem: it has a tapered bottom that fits into any car cup holder.

This is the Stanley Cup’s unique selling point (USP) – in other words, what makes the product different, and by implication better, than its competitors. If you want good examples of products that solve problems and their USPs, watch some of the pitches given by aspiring entrepreneurs on Shark Tank.

Beyond a smart use of selling points, the popularity of the Stanley cup appears somewhat random, based largely on TikTok videos and posts from influencers.  These are often what make a product “cool” – and this status can be fleeting. The folks behind the craze knew that one more element would fan the flames of popularity: scarcity.  Target capitalized on the fact that making certain colors hard to find, or available in limited editions, created more demand.

While it’s almost impossible for an independent retailer to replicate the viral storm and intentional scarcity that drove the Quencher frenzy, you can be inspired to use social media to show how the products you carry are uniquely able to solve problems for your customers. Selling benefits is never just a craze – it’s one of the proven tenants of good advertising. 

Happy Retailing,
Carol “Orange” Schroeder