January 26, 2024

Stanley Cup Mania

Stanley Cup Mania

A California woman was just arrested for allegedly stealing $2,500 worth of Stanley cups from a retail store, in the latest example of the craze over these highly coveted tumblers. “While Stanley quenchers are all the rage, we strongly advise against turning to crime to fulfill your hydration habits,” the local police department in Roseville, CA., posted on its Facebook page.

Apparently, the craze has been driving bids for the colorful cups as high as $375 on eBay, many times their usual retail price of $35-$45. By the time you read this, they may be selling for even more.

Being of a certain age, when I first heard about these Stanley cups, I mistakenly thought Stanley Cup, as in professional hockey. What do I know? I first learned of them in our local Target, when my daughter asked for one (the first of several) to use as the water bottle she takes to school everyday. Stanley cups have suddenly become a hot trend as an alternative to generic water bottles, thanks to social media influencers and bloggers who like their stylish colors and durability. As the tumblers started catching on, one trio of entrepreneurial moms, who run an online and social-media-based buyer’s guide, approached the CEO of Stanley’s parent company to form a partnership to spread the word about them. The CEO was willing to try it, and Stanley—founded in 1913 by an inventor—is now enjoying an unexpected renaissance.

It’s the latest example of how—thanks to TikTok, Instagram, and other social media sites, young consumers are re-imagining basic products and brands—and are giving them a second life in the marketplace.

Like Stanley, some of these brands are owned by middle-market companies and smaller corporations that are chugging along nicely without all of the hoopla, but their CEOs are open to trying new ways to market themselves. Other recent examples are L.L.Bean, whose beach totes have caught on with TikTokers; ALTOIDS Mints, whose metal cases are now being used as wallets by DIYers, and Polaroid cameras, which now come in editions—like the Keith Haring and David Bowie—that promise to help users who have just discovered them to recapture the retro vibes of the past.

Apparently we need to hire people to manage our TikTok presence. I guess we need a Chief TikToker, although the ideal person may need be of an age that is legal to work in some states.

Trends peak, and what comes up must go down. Still, the beauty of devoting yourself to running a solid middle-market company over many years—when there is no limelight or influencer “discovering” you—is that it was never about the trends in the first place. It must be a nice surprise for Stanley’s leadership team that their fan base has multiplied overnight, but this isn’t really an overnight success story. What truly sustains companies like this is a devotion to creating the best products they can, building a great company culture, and keeping promises to customers.

Accomplishing those things won’t necessarily make a middle-market company “TikTok famous.” But it will create real value, the kind that lasts beyond the latest consumer craze. That’s something every company can aspire to.