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.