Consumers’ continued predilection for the outdoors is undoubtedly shaping shopping habits, and evidently, the trend transcends apparel, touching everyday products — even the humble water bottle, which is now considered an “accessory.”
Drinkware and gear company Stanley, a 100-plus-year-old brand known for its vacuum-insulated technology that keeps beverages hot and cold and its soft “Stanley green” muted hue made popular across its products, noted significant changes in consumer behavior during COVID-19. As shoppers gravitated toward nature, camping and other outdoor activities, they sought new gear to meet their evolving needs — which is why Stanley’s Adventure Quencher, an Instagram favorite, has a waitlist of 33,000-plus consumers.
Here, Terence Reilly, global president of Stanley, talks to WWD about the changing outdoor consumer and shifting behavioral trends in the sector such as healthier habits and the growing popularity of “walktails.”
WWD: How has the consumer landscape evolved of late in the outdoor product category? What changes/trends have Stanley taken note of in the outdoor sector?
Terence Reilly: The events of 2020 have expanded our thinking on “outdoor” to include unique outside experiences and a bigger focus on health and wellness. Consumers are seeking experiences and solutions that provide them with the opportunity to spend time outside, build healthier habits and find ways to connect with family and friends.
The view of camping as a “roughing it” activity reserved only for the hearty has shifted. Camping and other outdoor activities are more inclusive than ever, and we see consumers — particularly in youth culture — infusing style, trends and colors to create outdoor hydration, eating and drinking experiences that are hyper-personalized.
At Stanley, we’ve seen a boom in sales across our product categories due to this spike in outdoor experiences. Stanley ensures that outdoor aficionados of all levels have gear that is both functional and stylish to withstand any adventure.
Our Hydration, Camp/Cook, Barware and Coffee/Café product categories have seen amazing growth since early 2020:
- Hydration: Our newest category harnesses outdoor/outside features with style, trend and colors. With so much time spent outside the past year, consumers have reimagined their “accessories” and seek on-trend health and wellness products as a part of their everyday look. This has created an increase in demand for on-trend, high-quality hydration gear that can accompany them at yoga class, on errands or deskside during their next meeting. When Stanley brand launched our new Hydration collection this past April, the IceFlow 30-oz. Tumbler sold out in eight hours, demonstrating consumer interest in stylish, functional and colorful hydration gear. There is also the Adventure Quencher Travel Tumbler, (the Quencher), a product that has experienced explosive growth due to the “big hydration” phenomenon and consumers’ interest in stylish health and wellness accessories.
- Camp/Cook: The past year has not only ignited interest in outside adventures but also has given rise to consumers exploring new hobbies, including cooking. We see that consumers have a renewed interest in the thoughtful preparation and enjoyment of food and beverage — from becoming their own barista and making craft coffee at home with our Classic Perfect-Brew Pour Over Set to perfecting a French omelet using the Stanley Adventure Even-Heat Camp Pro Cook Set. Consumers are looking for high-quality gear that allows them to enjoy the meal prep and cooking process, both outdoors and in.
- Barware: The pandemic inspired new ways of spending time with loved ones — from park picnics to rooftop gatherings to “walktail” moments around the neighborhood. Consumers are looking for the perfect gear that will keep their IPA chilled for hours or their sangria mixed to perfection. We have seen this trend reflected in our sales: barware, including pints and steins, is one of our top-selling categories, second only to our Vacuum Bottle category.
- Coffee/Café: Gone are the days of instant coffee at the campsite. Consumers are upping their brewing game with our Pour Over Set and our Classic Stay Hot French Press. Both allow consumers to adhere to a sustainable lifestyle — no paper filters needed here, thus, no waste.
WWD: What are some of the lasting effects of COVID-19 in outdoor? How have consumers’ desires and expectations changed?
T.R.: When faced with limited options for travel during the pandemic, the one thing people could rely on was getting outside to enjoy the outdoors. However, there were moments last year where simply stepping outside to your patio or backyard felt like a luxury, especially amid busy Zoom meetings and child care needs for some.
As such, consumers have redefined what outdoor/outside truly means, and they let their wild imaginations take them on unique adventures, whether it’s RV camping, meeting hydration goals after yoga or getting some vitamin D on their porch with their favorite Quencher.
We’re already seeing consumers that are more eager than ever to travel given the recent lifting of COVID-19 mandates; consumers are telling us they’re bringing our Happy Hour Cocktail Shaker Set to their weeklong Airbnb stay and packing up our nesting Cook Sets to bring to their Collective Retreat weekend getaway.
Consumers, especially Millennials and Gen Z, prioritize purchasing from brands with which their values align. At Stanley, we’re dedicated to building a more sustainable, less disposable life and world. As outdoor enthusiasts ourselves, caring for the Earth is one of our core values, and that’s why we’ve been making durable, reusable gear since 1913.
As a part of our Hydration launch, for example, we introduced IceFlow Flip Straw Jugs and IceFlow Flip Straw Tumblers, which both are made in part from plastics from discarded fishing nets, sparing our waters from waste.
WWD: Let’s talk about the Adventure Quencher, which has a waitlist of 33,000 consumers. What’s behind the demand for this product, and what factors contribute to its sudden spike in popularity?
T.R.: Our Adventure Quencher Travel Tumbler, or the “Quencher,” as we like to call it, grew in popularity following its introduction and well-timed consumer interest in meeting health and wellness goals while blending in one’s personal style.
The Instagram-famous 40-oz. Quencher delivers all-day, ice-cold hydration — consumers fill it up and keep it at their side for yoga, meetings and errands. It’s the dreamy accessory for poolside hydration, road trips, stroller walks or on-the-go.
The Quencher has been spotted in celeb’s Instagram feeds; most recently we have a fan in Jennifer Love Hewitt. There is consistent demand for the product, and every time we restock it, it sells out immediately. The combination of functional and sleek design is exactly what consumers are looking for, and we’re excited to bring it back to our waitlist of 33,000-plus consumers who are eagerly awaiting its return.
WWD: What’s next for Stanley Brand?
T.R.: On June 7, the Quencher will return in three beautiful, limited-edition pastel colors — Glass, Lilac and Blush — and four nature-inspired core colors including Granite, Driftwood, Coal and Cream. The launch of these colorways is a new, exciting addition to our Stanley iconic neutrals.
The Quencher is known for its versatility, portability and ability to keep drinks cold for 11 hours and iced for two days. It’s intuitively designed for busy lifestyles; it fits perfectly in a cupholder and has an ergonomically designed handle for toting on one’s adventures.
Lastly, I will say that the Quencher fits the “big hydration” trend that Stanley is seeing — hydration is critical for health and wellness, especially as we head into warmer summer months. Big hydration is no longer just a trend, but a way of life. It’s no surprise that our IceFlow Jugs and even our two-gallon Fast Flow Water Jug are also in demand as people fill up and head out with their favorite beverage. Sangria, anyone?
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