Pumpkin Spiced Marketing Strategy

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Pumpkin Spiced Marketing Strategy

Though it’s still well over 90 degrees outside, fall is officially back! Well, in stores that is. The month of September has brought back the flavor we all know and love: pumpkin spice. While many retailers have tried to cash in on the pumpkin trend, from dog treats to alcohol, no one does it better than Starbucks. Sale of pumpkin-flavored products reached $488.7 million over the last year. That’s up 15.5% from 2017. Since its inauguration in 2003, Pumpkin Spice Lattes have brought in an estimated revenue of around $1.4 billion dollars.

So, what makes this trend so profitable and how can other marketers replicate it? The first thing that entices consumers is the exclusivity of the offer. The timeline for this drink starts at the very end of August and only continues on for eight short weeks. Limited time products are attractive because it helps the consumer feel as if they are part of the cool and selective in-group and taps into a sense of urgency. The call to action created by the seasonality of this product encourages a higher rate of response.

The second aspect of this campaign that has brought great success to Starbucks is the experience aspect of it. The Pumpkin Spice Latte, affectionately nicknamed PSL, represents fall and has become the unofficial symbol for the start of autumn. It has become synonymous with the season. Now this may not be something all brands can achieve, but by evoking a feeling or creating something deeper than just trying to sell a product will bring forth a lasting consumer base.

The final piece of this successful marketing campaign is social media. Starbucks has 16.9 million followers on Instagram and uses this platform to communicate with their cult-like following. Social media unveiled the return of the beverage better than any press release could have. They also repost a lot of user generated content. UGC is the best way to increase engagement and foster a sense of community. They also have a strong cadence strategy, posting frequently but not overloading their followers. PSL content raised average engagement by almost double, bringing the figure to 2.11%.

Starbucks has unlocked a winning strategy and this fall season will surely increase their profitability and consumer relationships.


1 Comment

Alana Dorsey

Alana Dorsey

September 17, 2018at 7:55 pm

It cannot be argued that Starbucks holds the spot for best limited edition item, but is the love for PSL dying down? On many Snapchat polls, from various different sources, many people have voted that PSL is overrated, and seems to be coming earlier and earlier each year. As the article above stated, its still very hot out in most of the US, Starbucks’ largest market. I think for Starbucks to continue to have its hold over the fall/autumn limited edition segmentation, they are going to have to up the experience. I cannot even imagine the amount of hype and sales they could create, if the PSL came in its very own burnt orange cup. Similar to the signature red cup for the holiday season, an orange cup for PSL purchasers only, would have a media meltdown, with everyone trying to get their picture with the cup uploaded first. Also, Starbucks needs to introduce a reusable PSL themed cup, that allows users 10% of the drink. As Starbucks tries to limit the amount of waste it creates, a reusable cup would be great for the brand.

On a side note, the PSL is often accompanied by a fall themed food items. This year, notable, the pumpkin creme cheese muffin was missing from the lineup. Though I do not drink coffee, and am hesitant to all things pumpkin, that muffin was really good.

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