Fall Fanaticism: How Pumpkin Spice Lattes Won the Fall Market

August 28, 2018 Kimberlee Archibald

Crunchy orange leaves, football games and flannel shirts. When Americans think of autumn, these are a few of the things that come to mind.

And if you’re a coffee fanatic, you know fall also means it’s time to obsess over the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte. Available for the 2018 season starting today (August 28), the pumpkin spiced latte is a beloved favorite that’s yearned for throughout spring and summer. Happy Pumpkin Spice Day!

Pumpkin Spice Search Volume How Pumpkin Spice Lattes Won the Fall Market

Pumpkin spice reached its peak interest in September 2016, according to Google Trends. While searches for “pumpkin spice” grew steadily from 2004 to 2016, search volume has since decreased, confirming some theories about the flavor’s popularity only amounting to a phase.

The Marketing Behind the #PSL

The Marketing Behind the Starbucks #PSL

During pumpkin spice seasons, fans tweet about #PSL more than 3,000 times per day. But the drink couldn’t have become this popular without stellar marketing. Here a few key takeaways from Starbucks PSL marketing:

  • Exclusivity. The drink is only offered in the fall and early winter seasons, which smartly created an exclusive feel to the pumpkin spice latte. This helps encourage excitement and builds anticipation.
  • Targeting. Starbucks knows their target audience for PSLs: millennials. And they’ve conquered social media to engage them. The pumpkin spice latte has its own Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr pages where Starbucks shares bright and fun posts.
  • Storytelling. PSLs are a staple for the autumn season. When consumers think of fall, they think of PSLs. The pumpkin spice latte is directly correlated with the beginning of the holidays and family time, and Starbucks leverages that feeling every year.

Fall Fanaticism: How Pumpkin Spice Lattes Won the Fall Market

Many acclaim pumpkin spice’s popularity to the fame of the Starbucks latte, which launched in 2003. After receiving more than 200 million orders in its first ten years on the market, the pumpkin spice latte, nicknamed the PSL, became the brand’s most popular seasonal beverage of all time, according to Starbucks.

Starbucks now offers the PSL in almost 50 countries in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The Pumpkin Spice Craze

Since 2004, pumpkin spice exploded over grocery items, body care products and even dog treats. The ubiquity of the flavor and scent has grown each year with only a slight drop in interest in 2017. Pumpkin spice has inspired new scents and flavors for the following items:

Pumpkin spice has inspired new scents and flavors for the following items

And that’s just to name a few. A rumor spread across social media that Durex even created a pumpkin spice condom, though they quickly shed light on that with a tweet:

Durex USA tweet

Pumpkin spice has won over America’s heart through our snacks, drinks and lotions, and it all began with a Starbucks coffee. Will the American love of pumpkin keep the trend alive? In 2015, Forbes reported that the pumpkin spice industry sells $500 million worth of products every year, but with a drop in search volume last year, we’re eager to see if Americans will be as interested in pumpkin spice this year.

Are you ready to take your fall marketing to the next level? Contact Digital Media Solutions to get your strategy in place.

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