I am tired of social media influencers telling me to buy TikTok’s product of the month. This time, it’s the Stanley Quencher Cup. Content about it seems impossible to ignore, from an instance of a woman arrested for allegedly stealing $2,500 worth of Quenchers to shoppers racing through Target to grab the latest version — an event which was filmed and racked up 34.2 million views on TikTok. With actions like these, you’d think the cup was gold plated. Is this product really worth engaging in such extreme behaviors? Is it worth $35-45, or more on resell sites for sold out colors, if you already have a perfectly usable water bottle?
For me, the answer to both is a resounding no. The trend of buying multiple in different colors to use as accessories is tone-deaf and against the point of owning this reusable product. It blows my mind to imagine people paying almost 10 times the original prices on eBay for a limited edition cup — this “Pink Pearlescent” Quencher sold for $375 last week after receiving 59 bids.
According to CNBC, Stanley’s annual sales in 2023 were upwards of $750 million, a significant increase from just four years ago, when they were approximately $70 million. Stanley’s current president, Terrence Reilly, hired in 2020, helped usher in that increase. Reilly previously worked in marketing for Crocs, where he helped flip the shoe’s once unfashionable image. Now at Stanley, he is working similar marketing magic.
When Stanley was founded in 1913, their brand focused on making dishware for outdoorsmen. The brand rose to prominence in the past few months not for their campware, but because they targeted a new demographic: affluent young and middle aged women. When the Quencher was featured on a mom-focused blog, the Buy Guide which has 180,000 Instagram followers, Stanley was in. Mommy bloggers and lifestyle influencers like Emma Chamberlain made the product a hit.
The Quencher is a perfect example of marketing a product as the key to achieving a certain lifestyle aesthetic. Carrying a water bottle lets you emulate someone who takes pilates and drinks kale smoothies, the picture of superior wellness. The Quencher’s price tag also makes it exclusive. By walking around with one in a limited edition color, you’re telling the world that you’re wealthy, you’re healthy, and you’re in the know. It’s similar to wearing Lululemon leggings instead of off-brand leggings. The appeal isn’t the functionality of the item, it’s the luxury associated with the brand that gives an elevated social status to the wearer. The term conspicuous consumption, coined in 1899 by American sociologist Thorstein Veblen, describes this phenomenon in which consumers value excess status symbols over practicality.
The frenzy around Quenchers is unwarranted when looking at the product’s design. Water bottles should be durable and leak-proof — reports show that Quenchers are not— and while different colors are fun, it’s ultimately nothing special. Quenchers are going viral largely because the Stanley team knows how to market using social media. Pop musician Olivia Rodrigo told GQ Magazine, “I was actually TikTok influenced into buying [a Quencher]. I was like, I need this, it looks like it’s going to change my life. And it did.” I’m skeptical that it radically took Rodrigo’s life in a new direction, but her statement shows how powerful social media is for advertising. It’s unclear if Stanley compensated her for this promotion but regardless, her 60 million monthly listeners on Spotify, the majority being young women, are now more likely to buy a Quencher too. Rodrigo’s statement both perpetuates the consumerist cycle and also shows how easy it is to fall victim to TikTok’s influence.
Reusable water bottles are actually life changing. They reduce single use plastic consumption and having one encourages me to stay hydrated. So if a Quencher is the right bottle for you, buy one! Just don’t buy 20 in different colors. People filling their cupboards with Quenchers has completely defeated the purpose of owning a reusable item. Reilly described the Quencher as “akin to a woman’s handbag and how a woman might own multiple handbags, and match it to whatever outfit she was wearing that day.” Consumerism at its finest — a sustainable product becoming dispensable for profit.
It probably won’t be long before the Quenchers fill Goodwill shelves. The trend will come and go, similar to the plight of Hydroflasks. For some, Quenchers already are on their way out, according to some TikTok tastemakers who predict Owala bottles are the next big thing.
In the end, Quenchers are just another cog in the consumerist machine that owes its popularity to strategic marketing. To me, they’re bulky and awkward to carry. The hike to Lone Mountain is hard enough without adding 40 ounces of water to my load.
Editor-in-Chief: Megan Robertson, Chief Copy Editor: Sophia Siegel, Managing Editor: Jordan Premmer, Opinion Editor: Chisom Okorafor