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What B2B Marketers Can Glean from Stanley’s Success Story

Every once in a while, a brand seemingly comes out of nowhere and - poof - takes consumers, the internet, and store shelves by storm. It's like suddenly, the product is everywhere. You wonder why you’re the only one who doesn’t have it yet, and realize you better get one soon, because you must be missing out. 

Over the past few years, Stanley has been one of those brands.

This may come as a surprise, but Stanley has been around for over 100 years. Originating in 1913, the company had a small selection of rugged, hammerstone green products and a marketing playbook catered to outdoorsmen and hardworking blue-collar individuals. Fast forward to the present, and Stanley's annual revenue has soared from $70 million to an astounding $750 million in just four years. 

The star of this meteoric rise? The Stanley Quencher, a 40-ounce insulated tumbler that has become a cultural sensation. Let’s unravel the lessons B2B companies can glean from Stanley's transformative journey. 

The Stanley Quencher

Embrace Adaptable Marketing Strategies

The turning point for Stanley came when an internal employee noticed an unexpected surge in numbers, prompting a deeper investigation. The revelation? The Buy Guide, a commerce blog curated by the passionate Ashlee LeSueur—who was a huge fan of the Stanley Quencher, was driving sales.

Stanley, demonstrating its adaptability, embraced this discovery. Because of that, the Quencher's fortunes took a turn, finding an enthusiastic audience among women who were neither outdoorsy nor blue-collar. 

Stanley’s Instagram page started featuring recreated versions of its drinkware in soft pastels, vibrant hues, and patterns. The brand’s website was updated to show women having coffee, a person doing yoga, and two women walking and chatting while holding their Stanley drinkware.

The key insight? Stanley didn’t purposefully seek out this change. They spotted an opportunity and adapted their product, branding, and marketing efforts to it. Hence, adaptive marketing.

Lessons for B2B companies:

  • Investigate unexpected data shifts for hidden opportunities.

  • Explore beyond target demographics to understand diverse needs.

  • Adapt to emerging trends seen on social platforms.

  • Explore partnerships, as seen with The Buy Guide.

  • Create and regularly update detailed buyer personas (Hint: check out our complimentary template to get started)

Utilize Social Media and Content Creation

Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to rate user-generated content as “more authentic” than content generated by brands. And 79% of consumers say user-generated content “highly affects” their purchasing decisions.

Stanley astutely harnessed this power to turn the insulated tumbler into more than just a beverage container. Platforms like TikTok became key arenas for Stanley, featuring limited edition drops, celebrity collaborations, and a kaleidoscope of new colors that transformed the Quencher into a trendy must-have.

One shining example is when a woman posted a video that highlighted her burned-down car, with the surprising revelation that her Stanley—burnt to a crisp in her cup holder—still had ice in it. Stanley's swift and impactful response, gifting the woman a new car, became an instant marketing sensation. 

In the B2B landscape, this highlights the importance of leveraging influencers, thought leaders, and satisfied customers. Collaborating with these voices for videos, webinars, or case studies can enhance credibility and extend your brand's reach. 

Lessons for B2B companies:

  • Interact with followers, reviewers, and users on social media, review sites, and online forums.

  • Leverage employee advocacy for a genuine brand representation.

  • Collaborate with industry influencers for credibility and reach. Think about the experts, thought leaders, or even satisfied customers who can advocate for your brand and partner with these individuals for videos, webinars, or case studies to increase credibility and broaden your reach.

Recognizing shifts and embracing new opportunities in audience demographics could be your key to sustained growth and relevance in a rapidly changing market. 

Ready to explore growth opportunities for your brand? Let us know!

Free Buyer Persona Template


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