Stanley Looks to Replicate the Water-Bottle Hype Among Guys
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Stanley Looks to Replicate the Water-Bottle Hype Among Guys

Company wants to widen consumer base and product lines after its blockbuster growth among thirsty women

By KATIE DEIGHTON
Sat, Mar 23, 2024 7:00amGrey Clock 3 min

Stanley has spent the past few years turning a vacuum-insulated, 40-ounce water bottle into one of the most-desired womenswear accessories on the planet. Now it is widening its focus to include the customer it was first designed for more than 110 years ago—men.

The company, which is owned by Chicago-based HAVI, next year plans to release new products geared toward guys beyond its current male audience of outdoor enthusiasts.

The new Stanley man might not require a steel canteen to take into the wilderness, but he might want a sleek water bottle to take from the office to the gym to date night in a wine bar, according to Jenn Reeves, Stanley’s vice president of global brand marketing.

“He’s not a fashionista, but he cares about how he’s put together. He’s into grooming and how he looks, and into sports,” Reeves said. That hypothetical male customer wants water bottles that are a little sleeker and subtler than the brightly coloured giant flasks coveted by Stanley’s female audience, she said.

The bid for diversification comes as Stanley looks to hold on to the brand equity it has accrued in a remarkably short time.  

Stanley’s annual revenue jumped to around $750 million in 2023 from $73 million in 2019, and scores of articles and think pieces have in the past year been written to explain how a company originally targeting construction workers became one of the trendiest brands of the moment. Much of the success comes down to the recent rise of the brand’s 40-ounce Quencher, which it introduced in 2016. The $45 metal cup with a straw and a handle has become a status symbol among women and tweens, caused new-product frenzies in stores, and generated a “Saturday Night Live” skit lampooning women who drink out of comically “big dumb cups.”

Imitators and competitors for thirsty consumers are hot on Stanley’s heels. They include cooler-maker Yeti , which last year introduced a 42-ounce straw mug similar in design to the Quencher.

Stanley’s latest release is a collection of cooler bags and a carryall holder for its 40-ounce Quencher bottle, slated for release in April. The wearable coolers were developed in response to women’s complaints that the market’s existing offerings were too heavy, too clunky and too ugly, and the crossbody was designed to ease the burden of carrying a water bottle and a purse around all day.

Beyond hammertone green 

The Stanley customer only became known internally as a “she” in 2020, when Terence Reilly, the former chief marketing officer of Crocs, joined as president. Reilly, who liked to say his team had turned Crocs’ divisive shoes “from a meme to a dream,” learned that the Quencher was becoming popular among a group of women in Utah, a few of whom ran a shopping blog called the Buy Guide according to one of the blog’s co-founders.

The group, along with a female Stanley sales account manager, suggested that the company start selling its cups in colors outside of black, white and its signature hammertone green, and it did. Sales lifted, while the company began to lean more on real women to spread the word about its products.

The Stanley marketing team has grown slowly since Reilly’s arrival but is still tiny by industry standards: only seven full-time staff members across advertising, brand, marketing, media and social media, said Reeves, who joined in 2022. The company spends money on traditional direct marketing, such as email campaigns, but its biggest focus is social media and working with real women and influencers who promote Stanley to their followers.

Stanley got a big, unexpected break in November, when a TikTok user named Danielle Lettering posted a video claiming that the only item to survive her car fire was her Stanley Quencher. The clip went viral, and Stanley bought her a new car and covered related costs including taxes.

Influencing men

Many of Stanley’s male consumers are already Quencher fans, Stanley said, and guys sometimes feature in its ads. The company heading into 2025 has to translate its social-media momentum among women into a marketing strategy designed to attract more men with the planned sleeker range.

The typical male consumer is also swayed by the recommendations of influencers, but he often spends time on different platforms than his female counterpart, said Chris Anthony, the chief revenue officer of media company Gallery Media Group, which works with social-media content creators. He is likely to track interests, teams and channels, as opposed to following specific influencers across all platforms the way some women do, he said.

“Guys rely more on their feed versus the people,” Anthony said. “And letting the influencers tell their stories, and not being so prescriptive, will especially resonate with guys in the right way.”

Some of those influencers might be Stanley’s current best customers, Reeves said. “We have the women, and they love us,” she said.



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Is the Stock Market Near Its Top?

Don’t let the hum of the bull tune out signs warning that a bear may be lurking.

By ANDY KESSLER
Mon, Jul 15, 2024 3 min

The third season of the terrific show “The Bear” blends family dysfunction with the ups and downs of high-end restaurants. With markets chasing new highs—get out those Dow 40000 hats—this column is about a different kind of dysfunctional beast. Is the market bear dead, or is it about to sneak up on us?

A U.S. equity strategist told me the story of a Japanese portfolio manager who sat in his office in July 1987 asking for stock ideas. The strategist’s model was based on a proprietary survey of investor sentiment, though it never really worked. Nonetheless, he read off a list of dozens of stocks. The portfolio manager then asked if he would kindly put in an order for 20,000 shares of each. The Dow Jones Industrial Average peaked at 2722 in late August and crashed 22.6% on Oct. 19.

A friend was a portfolio manager of a massive growth-stock fund in 1999. He told me he bought shares of Yahoo, Cisco, F5 Networks, Infosys and others every day because money flowed into his fund every day. The tech-heavy Nasdaq index peaked on March 10, 2000. As money began to flow out, he had to sell every day. By year’s end, Nasdaq had fallen by more than half.

I met Cathie Wood as she was filing papers for her “disruptive innovation” funds—to “change the way the world works.” Her ARK Innovation exchange-traded fund, ARKK, launched in October 2014 and charges 0.75% management fees. In 2020 it was up 153% as stimulus money flew in, driving more buying. ARKK peaked in February 2021 with $28 billion in assets. Since then, its net asset value is down 70%, even amid a roaring bull market, especially in tech. Morningstar recently calculated that Ms. Wood’s Ark Invest funds have destroyed more than $14 billion in wealth. One of my favorite Wall Street sayings is, “Don’t mistake a bull market for brains.”

In almost every bull run, stock momentum lures in investors at the worst moment, I call them momos, ensuring they get burned when the buying stops. Since 2009, excepting a few brief sell-offs, cash has been trash. That made some sense during the era of zero interest rates. But now with higher inflation and short rates above 5%? Confusing. Maybe investors are already anticipating another Donald Trump antiregulation pro-growth presidency, forgetting that he is married to a growth-killing pro-tariff agenda. Is the bear dead, or does it have a long fuse?

Predicting stock markets is a fool’s errand. My Series 7 test for General Securities Representative Qualification lapsed long ago, so you won’t get investment advice from me. But there are warning signs.

Have we run out of buyers? Sometimes there are triggers that scare them away: oil shocks, viruses, bank failures. But sometimes they simply collapse from exhaustion. More than 40% of households reportedly own stocks—a higher percentage than in 2000. It was 20% in 2010. Some market indicators also point to asset managers being fully invested. Who’s left to buy?

Market breadth is concerning. The 1973 market peak was driven by stretched valuations of the Nifty Fifty, which included IBM , Coca-Cola and GE but also Polaroid and Xerox . Fifty? Now it’s the Magnificent Seven: Alphabet , Amazon , Apple , Meta , Microsoft , Nvidia and Tesla . Seven? Artificial-intelligence hype, way ahead of even the rosiest of realities, drove Nvidia to make up almost a third of the S&P 500’s first half gains. Another quarter came from Amazon, Meta, Microsoft and Eli Lilly . Maybe fat bulls need Mounjaro.

Stock values feel divorced from reality. The so-called Warren Buffett indicator—the ratio between total stock-market value and gross domestic product—was 138% in March 2000. It’s now 196%. Certainly not a buy signal. And Bitcoin, my go-to bubblicious bat signal, is down about 20% since March. A dead canary?

“Don’t worry, be happy,” the bulls sing. Inflation is slain, and the Fed will cut rates. But investors won’t like the reason for those cuts. We’re already seeing earnings disasters—Nike, Walgreens , Lululemon , Delta and Wells Fargo . If the economy slows, earnings glitches and stock implosions become contagious. Plus, banks’ exposure to commercial real estate is scary, with buildings being dumped at huge haircuts almost weekly. This is now infecting rental buildings, and there are signs of a private housing glut. Inventory in Denver is up nearly 37%. Sure, markets climb a “wall of worry,” and bull markets tend to last longer than people expect, but sometimes the nightmares are real. Recessions are like honey to bears.

Even writing about the bear is bullish. Bull runs end when everyone is a believer. Still, another favorite saying of mine is, “No one’s ever lost money taking a profit.” Someday, cash will be king again. I prefer to buy stocks when everyone hates them.

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