Is the Stanley Still a Status Symbol? And What’s the Next ‘It’ Cup?

Entering my yoga class often feels akin to browsing through a trendy social media feed. For instance, the array of water bottles catches the eye. Throughout the past year, every time I stole a glance in downward dog, there they were: a collection of oversized Stanley Quencher tumblers, confidently holding court amidst a sea of yoga mats. – Is the Stanley Still a Status Symbol And What’s the Next It Cup.

Though I’ve yet to purchase my own, I must confess, the straw does appear inviting—and the colors are undeniably striking. Yet, it’s about more than just aiding hydration. Carrying a Stanley Quencher exudes a sense of status, akin to sporting an Apple watch or donning Lululemon leggings. My fellow yogis continually reinforce this notion: not only do they possess the right equipment, but they also wield the right water bottles to sip from.

The Stanley Quencher attained iconic status through a combination of savvy marketing, cultural currents, and a price point that places it above mere water bottles yet within reach compared to other luxury goods. However, it’s not alone in the race, with contenders like the Hydro Jug vying for its throne.

What Made Stanley a Status Symbol

“The brilliance of the Stanley Cup lay in its color scheme, carefully aligned with the athleisure trend that surged during the pandemic,” explains Quynh Mai, founder of Qulture, a New York-based digital marketing agency specializing in social media trends. “The brand’s 110-year history lent it credibility and heritage, but it was the vibrant colors and limited-edition releases that transformed it into a fashion statement.”

Originally targeted at outdoor enthusiasts, the Quencher underwent a significant transformation from its 1913 inception by Williams Stanley Jr. Through strategic partnerships and a reimagined marketing approach, the company repositioned the Quencher as a lifestyle essential, particularly targeting women aged 25 to 50. Leveraging social media and influencer endorsements, Stanley harnessed user-generated content, including TikTok influencers flaunting their colorful tumbler collections.

“The Stanley Cup is one of the few products that trended with moms and then trickled down to their daughters and younger generations, in particular their Gen Alpha daughters.”

Quynh Mai, founder of Qulture

“The Stanley Cup is one of the few products that trended with moms and then trickled down to their daughters and younger generations, in particular their Gen Alpha daughters,” Mai adds.

Why Is a CUP a Status Symbol?

Displaying certain items as signals of wealth or success is nothing new, notes Cait Lamberton, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Even when the item itself isn’t exorbitantly priced, like a Birkin bag, it can still serve as a status symbol.

However, the tumbler’s rise as a status symbol stems from its embodiment of “privileged knowledge”—those in the know were early adopters of the Quencher, signaling their belonging to an exclusive subgroup. “It signified what was cool in that moment,” Lamberton elaborates. “Members of this group can communicate their membership through displaying, posting about, or engaging with content about the cup. Every action that signals membership in this subgroup is another opportunity to convey status.”

Enthusiasts attest to the practical benefits of the Stanley Quencher beyond its status appeal. The 40-ounce capacity encourages increased hydration, while the straw facilitates easy sipping without the hassle of unscrewing or fumbling with a cap. Additionally, its large handle offers comfort on the go.

Moreover, Mai suggests that the Quencher’s affordability compared to high-end handbags resonates with consumers. “This cup represents a democratic and utilitarian ‘it’ product, supplanting handbags for many,” she observes. “Geared towards busy, multitasking women, it fulfills the needs of vibrant, on-the-go lifestyles.”

“More visible goods can more easily be used to signal status to others, so this works in Stanley’s favor.”

-Cait Lamberton, professor of marketing at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School

Lamberton’s Gen Z students highlight the Stanley’s unique size as a contributing factor to its popularity. While its oversized design may render it impractical for stowing in a bag, it also enhances its visibility as enthusiasts tote it around. Furthermore, its array of elusive colors adds to its allure. “In this case, visibility outweighs functionality,” Lamberton remarks. “More visible goods can more effectively signal status to others, hence bolstering Stanley’s appeal.”

Fans Are Already Predicting What’s Next – Is the Stanley Still a Status Symbol? And What’s the Next ‘It’ Cup?

Anticipating the Next Trend Despite its current prominence, the Stanley Quencher’s status symbol is showing signs of waning, Lamberton notes. Many of her marketing students report the Owala gaining traction on campus. Additionally, consumers no longer expect unwavering loyalty to their preferred water bottles, especially as newer options offer enhanced features and materials.

Part of the allure lies in the transient nature of trends. “We can’t predict what’s next, but we can be certain it won’t endure,” she concludes. And perhaps, I’ll embrace the next trend myself.

Top Contenders for the Next ‘It’ Cup

Top Contenders for the Next ‘It’ Cup When selecting a water bottle, factors such as hydration habits, lifestyle, material, lid type, and capacity should be considered. Opt for durable designs featuring shatter-proof glass or stainless steel, prioritizing user-friendly lids. Look for additional features like insulation for temperature control and leak-proof seals. Below are our top picks to keep you hydrated on the move:

22 oz LifeFactory Glass Water Bottle With Silicone Sleeve and Classic Cap

The dependable companion, crafted from dishwasher-safe glass and encased in a protective silicone sleeve, blends sophistication with practicality, making it ideal for daily use.

18 oz Purist Mover

Whether enjoying hot tea or chilled water, the leak-proof design ensures beverages remain at the optimal temperature throughout the day. Purist’s silicone dioxide interior guarantees a pure taste, separating flavors without the common aftertaste associated with stainless steel or plastic bottles.

Owala Freesip

Dubbed the new status water bottle, Owala boasts a comfortable spout and superior insulation. Users can opt for the built-in straw or tilt it back for a quick sip through the wide-mouth opening. A button mechanism effortlessly flips the top open and securely locks it shut.


Some aficionados of tumbler-style water bottles are already swapping their Stanleys for the HydroJug, as dramatic TikToks suggest. Certain colors even boast waitlists. Reviewers praise the HydroJug’s cup holder-compatible Traveler mug and appreciate the flip-up straw for easy sipping, reminiscent of the Stanley Quencher’s appeal.

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