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

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 colored 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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Some chocolatiers and coffee makers say they will have to pass on the extra cost to consumers

Sun, Apr 14, 2024 4 min

Global prices for cocoa and coffee are surging as severe weather events hamper production in key regions, raising questions from farm to table over the long-term damage climate change could have on soft commodities.

Cultivating cocoa and coffee requires very specific temperature, water and soil conditions. Now, more frequent heat waves, heavy rainfalls and droughts are damaging harvests and crippling supplies amid ever growing demand from customers worldwide.

“Adverse weather conditions, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, have played an important role in sending several food commodities sharply higher,” said Ole Hansen , head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank.

The spikes in prices are a threat to coffee and chocolate makers across the globe.

Swiss consumer-goods giant Nestlé was able to pass only a fraction of the cocoa price increase to customers last year, and it may need to adjust pricing in the future due to persistently high prices, a spokesperson said.

Italian coffee maker Lavazza reported revenue of more than $3 billion for last year, but said profitability was hit by soaring coffee bean prices, particularly for green and Robusta coffee, and its decision to limit price increases.

Likewise, chocolatier Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Spruengli said in its 2023 results that weather and climate conditions played a major role in the global shortage of cocoa beans that led to historically high prices. The company had to lift the sales prices of its products and said it would need to further raise them this year and next if cocoa prices remain at current levels.

Hershey ’s chief executive, Michele Buck , said in February that historic cocoa prices are expected to limit earnings growth this year, and that the company plans to use “every tool in its toolbox,” including price hikes, to manage the impact on business.

In West Africa, where about 70% of global cocoa is produced, powerhouses Ivory Coast and Ghana are facing catastrophic harvests this season as El Niño—the pattern of above-average sea surface temperatures—led to unseasonal heavy rainfalls followed by strong heat waves.

Extreme heat has weakened cocoa trees already damaged from heavy rainfall at the end of last year, according to Morningstar DBRS’s Aarti Magan and Moritz Steinbauer. The rain also worsened road conditions, disrupting cocoa bean deliveries to export ports.

The International Cocoa Organization—a global body composed of cocoa producing and consuming member countries—said in its latest monthly report that it expects the global supply deficit to widen to 374,000 metric tons in the 2023-24 season, from 74,000 tons last season. Global cocoa supply is anticipated to decline by almost 11% to 4.449 million tons when compared with 2022-23.

“Significant declines in production are expected from the top producing countries as they are envisaged to feel the detrimental effect of unfavourable weather conditions and diseases,” the organisation said.

While the effects of climate change are severe, other serious structural issues are also hitting West African cocoa production in the short- to medium-term. Illegal mining poses a significant threat to cocoa farms in Ghana, destroying arable land and poisoning water supplies, and the problem is becoming increasingly relevant in the Ivory Coast, according to BMI.

The issues are being magnified by deforestation carried out to increase cocoa production. Since 1950, Ivory Coast has lost around 90% of its forests, while Ghana has lost around 65% over the same period. This has driven farmers to areas less suited to cocoa cultivation like grasslands, increasing the amount of labor required and bringing further downside risks to the harvest, the research firm said.

The Ivory Coast’s cocoa mid-crop harvest—which officially starts in April and runs until September—is expected to fall to 400,000-500,000 tons from 600,000-620,000 tons last year, with weather expected to play a crucial role in shaping the market balance for the season, ING analysts said, citing estimates from the country’s cocoa regulator. Ghana’s cocoa board also forecasts a slump in the harvest for this season to as low as 422,500 tons, the poorest in more than 20 years, according to BMI.

Neither regulator responded to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, extreme droughts in Southeast Asia—particularly in Vietnam and Indonesia—are resulting in lower coffee bean harvests, hurting producers’ output and global exports. Coffee inventories have recovered somewhat in recent weeks but remain low in recent historical terms. Robusta coffee has seen a severe deterioration in export expectations, while Arabica coffee is expected to return to a relatively narrow surplus this year, said Charles Hart, senior commodities analyst at BMI.

The global coffee benchmark prices, London Robusta futures, are up by 15% on-month to $3,825 a ton. Arabica coffee prices have also surged 17% over the last month to $2.16 a pound in lockstep with Robusta—its highest level since October 2022. Cocoa prices have more than tripled on-year over these supply crunch fears, and risen 49% in the last month alone to $10,050 a ton.

“Cocoa trees are particularly sensitive to weather and require very specific conditions to grow, this means that cocoa prices are especially vulnerable to extreme weather events, such as drought and periods of intense heat, as well as the longer-term impact of climate change,” said Lucrezia Cogliati, associate commodities analyst at BMI.

Cogliati said global cocoa consumption is expected to outpace production for the third consecutive season, with intense seasonal West African winds and plant diseases contributing to significant declines.

Consumers hoping for a return to cheaper prices for life’s little luxuries in the midterm may also be in for a bitter surprise.

“There is no sugarcoating it—consumers will ultimately be faced with higher chocolate prices, products that contain less chocolate, and/or shrinking product sizes,” Morningstar’s Magan and Steinbauer said in a report.

“We anticipate consumers could respond by searching widely for promotional discounts, trading down to value-based chocolate and confectionary products from premium products, switching to private-label from branded products and/or reducing volumes altogether.”

The record-breaking rally for cocoa and coffee is likely more than just a flash in the pan, according to Citi analysts, as adverse weather conditions and strong demand trends are likely to support prices in the months ahead. The U.S. bank estimates Arabica coffee futures in a range of $1.88-$2.15 a pound for the current year, but said projections could be lifted if the outlook for 2024-25 tightens further.

At the heart of it all, climate change is set to play a major role, as the impact of extreme weather events could exacerbate the pressure on cocoa and coffee supplies, according to market watchers.

“I don’t expect prices to remain at these levels, but if we continue to see more unusual weather as a result of global warming then we certainly could see more volatility in terms of cocoa yields going forward, which could impact pricing,” said Paul Joules, commodities analyst at Rabobank.