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The Stanley vs. Owala Marketing War

We live in a world where people notice everything you wear: clothes, jewelry, bags — even the brand of your water bottle. Every brand you decide to associate yourself with matters. 

In the past years, new brands have taken over the water bottle industry. Currently, on TikTok individuals are recording videos with the caption “I can’t keep up with the water bottles trend.” 

Advertisers can learn how to achieve social media advertising success and reach their target audiences from these famous water bottles with expanding success.

Introducing Stanley and Owala

The Stanley brand has been around for over 110 years. Before becoming viral, Stanley mainly focused on targeting the insulated water bottles for outdoor use. Seeing how three influencers from the Buy Guide loved their product, they started targeting Millennial and Gen Z women through brand and influencer collaborations. One of their marketing strategies is to have high demand and low supply, making the product even more desirable and giving anyone who has it a “status symbol.” With their excellent marketing strategy, Stanley went from 70 million dollars to 750 million dollars in sales a year and became a household brand known and loved by many. 

The Owala brand has only been open for the past four years and decided to focus its brand on creating the “finest water bottle in the land.” Although there wasn’t an immediate trend for the Owala water bottles, the company is steadily increasing its brand affinity. Owala's marketing strategy started with a focus on the convenience and innovative features of the product’s ability to sip and chug. An article from Ad Age also explains that Owala utilized what’s going on with Stanley’s led accusations to create a post on Instagram saying “we are led free.” 

Brand Loyalty

The world had become so obsessed with the Stanleys that it became a viral phenomenon on TikTok. The company's target audience loved the product so much that they are now purchased as collectibles. A Wall Street Journal article titled "Why Does Anyone Need 37 Stanley Cups?” details the life of a teenager who owns 37 Stanley Cups, with each Stanley purchased to match one of her outfits. During the release of the Valentine's Day Stanley Cup, people ran to Target to get their hands on one of these products. Through these trends, Stanley has made such an impact with its audience that not only are brand loyalty rates skyrocketing but individuals are willing to go above and beyond for the brand. 

Photo Credit: Amelia Awad


Although Stanley has very strong brand loyalty, Owala has been taking away Stanley's customers based on its superior functionality. In an article from Business Insider, the author explains how the Stanely is becoming inconvenient and consumers prefer Owala’s for its focus on functionality. Millenial and Gen Z women see Owalas as an investment that offers “convenience, price point, fun color options, portability and high quality”.

What can advertisers learn from Stanley and Owala? 

The key takeaway from the Stanley craze is that who and how you market your product matters tremendously in the industry. They market their product differently by making Stanley an everyday item rather than only an outdoor one. The company has changed its target audience to women, which is instrumental in their success because based on an article from Capital One Shopping, “Women are directly or indirectly responsible for 70% to 80% of all consumer purchasing decisions.” The company has also established its success through advertising collaborations with famous influencers and brands such as Target, allowing the company to strategically align with its target audience. In a Washington Post article, the company's involvement with celebrities was further established. Some of the celebrities who own a Stanley include “Olivia Rodrigo, Jessica Alba, Shay Mitchell, Adele, and Carrie Underwood.” 

Statista describes that Gen Z sees themselves as “conscious consumers.” Yet, Stanley and Owala were able to defy those beliefs and made Gen Z go against the habit with the want to collect trendy water bottles.  

While we don’t recommend putting brand success over consumer values, there is something to learn from these companies’ ability to become an everyday staple and stay relevant.

By Aya El Ladiki


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