🌊 Do you need an emotional support water bottle?
What makes a water bottle worth joining a 150,000 people waiting list for?
Hi there 👋 I'm Michelle and this is Edition 84 of Design Insight. A weekly newsletter for creatives with a focus on design.
Let's get started.
What is an emotional support water bottle?
In a recent conversation with a friend, I discovered the world of water bottles on TikTok. In particular, my friend referenced a hashtag: emotional support water bottle or ESWB. This concept intrigued me so I reactivated my TikTok account to learn more (pray for me 🙏).
The best thing about a water bottle
I learned this week (I'm way behind) there's a web version of TikTok.
This was the approach I took instead of installing the app on my phone where I could scroll endlessly. To be fair, the same scenario is possible on a computer but at least I eventually tore myself away long enough to write this.
I started my learning journey by typing the hashtag emotional support water bottle into TikTok and began consuming.
I found tips, hacks, advice, relatable stories, and unboxings solely dedicated to water bottles. Seriously, there are tips for the best places to fill up your ESWB at various locations like Disney World.
There are also hacks for storing large water bottles in your car cup holder:
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The more I explored, the more hashtags I discovered, and the more I learned.
To me, the features plus the aesthetics of a water bottle are the key traits that make them desirable for people. Some people sticker bomb their bottles to make them unique. Others collect all different colors of a specific brand of bottle so they can choose a bottle that matches their mood or the day.
I can see how the idea of an emotional support water bottle is "kind of a joke", but there's something to having a good water bottle to remind you to drink water. I think that's why this trend has become so popular.
I could have continued down this rabbit hole forever but I decided to focus on one type of water bottle: the Stanley cup.
It's a massive tumbler with a removable straw, handle, and tapered bottom, allowing it to fit in a car's cup holder.
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This humble product might not seem like much but the Stanley cup has a fascinating story.
The cup was discontinued in 2019 so it was on the verge of no longer existing. Cue a group of bloggers who loved using the Stanley cups. They campaigned to bring the Stanley cup back to life. This created a huge buzz on social media. Not only was the product restocked, but in 2022 the Stanley cup had a peak waiting list of up to 150,000 people waiting to buy one!
So why is the Stanley cup so popular?
Sure it's a social media trend and maybe its time will pass but I wanted to look at it from a product design perspective to see what I could learn.
Let's look at the Stanley cup from the perspective of Dieter Rams’ principles for good design.
Good design makes a product useful
"A product is bought to be used."
The Stanley cup serves a purpose: it allows you to drink water. It makes this process easy with its large size (more water = fewer refills), removable lid, and straw attachment.
It's made from stainless steel which allows it to keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot for long periods of time.
It's dishwasher safe which makes it easy to clean.
It encourages you to use a single product rather than buying lots of plastic water bottles that you'll only use once and then throw away.
Good design is aesthetic
Stanley cups come in a variety of colors including limited edition designs all of which are aimed at appealing to their predominantly female demographic.
The style of the tumbler itself is striking yet simple mostly due to its tapered bottom, handle, and straw lid.
A part of me also thinks the "social media trend appeal" feeds into the aesthetic of the Stanley cup.
Good design makes a product understandable
The addition of a handle (a universal symbol for grabbing or pulling) makes the cup even easier to pick up and carry around with you.
The removable straw is easily recognizable as a way to drink from the cup.
The tapered bottom encourages you to pop it into your cup holder on the way to work or wherever you're going.
Honestly? Finding ways to drink more water is hard. One way to encourage yourself to drink water is with a really nice water bottle.
It sounds silly to say for something like a water bottle but if you like it you're more likely to use it even after the novelty has worn off.
The water bottle I currently use is a simple 1L bottle that has the times of the day and measurements printed on each side. This "gamifies" the water drinking experience for me. Also, because it's so large I don't need to fill it up as often. I keep it at my desk so I always have it nearby when I'm working.
Maybe I'll sign up for the Stanley cup waiting list to see what all the fuss is about 🤔😅
P.S. I hope you enjoyed reading this week's post! I'm becoming more and more fascinated with the world of product design so it's been really beneficial to share what I learn here with you. Long may it continue!
🔗 Curated Links
A collection of links I found interesting this week:
The TikTok-Viral Stanley Drinking Tumbler Has Been Re-Stocked
I keep this one permanently in my bookmarks so I can have a little giggle when I'm feeling crap about work:
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Til next week 👋