Do You Need An Emotional Support Water Bottle?

What makes a water bottle worth joining a 150,000 people waiting list for?

Design
January 30, 2023
Reading Time: 5 mins

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In a recent conversation with a friend, I discovered the world of water bottles on TikTok. In particular, my friend referenced a hashtag: #emotionalsupportwaterbottle or ESWB. This concept intrigued me so I reactivated my TikTok account to learn more (pray for me 🙏).

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.

Learning about water bottles

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:

@franklins_nz Perks of being a ✨marketing girlie✨ at Franklins

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.

The Quencher A.K.A the Stanley cup

The Stanley Cup

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.

@perkinsonparkway

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!

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

Good design is aesthetic

Good design makes a product understandable

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.

My water bottle

Maybe I’ll sign up for the Stanley cup waiting list to see what all the fuss is about 🤔😅

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