A Marketing Lesson From Your Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin spice consumer goods have officially become an epidemic. Pumpkin spice shoes. Pumpkin spice beer. Twitter is flooded with pumpkin hashtags, pumpkin spice blog posts are trending and the news is reporting on pumpkins too. Pumpkin spiced EVERYTHING. But wait, how did this happen? There are a few things we can learn as marketers from this pandemic, here is a Marketing Lesson From Your Pumpkin Spice Latte. 

Ah – the pumpkin spice latte, seemingly where it all began. The fall season has always been a time for orange decorations and spiced drinks but over the past few years, there has been a significant uptick in the prevalence of pumpkin spice lattes. Starbucks launched the fall flavored drink in 2003 and has sold over 200 million lattes since. In fact, the PSL twitter handle, @therealPSL has over 117K followers and it’s own advocacy program called the #TheOrangeSleeveSociety.

Advocacy Marketing

The Orange Sleeve Society offers fans free merchandise in exchange for their public praise of the PSL. Starbucks’ first society will be distinguished by orange PSL coozies and can easily be joined by any pumpkin enthusiast. Anyone can join but you do have to share a bit of personal information and send a tweet to a friend to claim your free coozie. It will be interesting to see how Starbucks engaged and contributed to build relationships with this group of brand advocates throughout the year and next PSL season.

Owning a Space

The topic of owning a space is often referenced in marketing. Kleenex has owned facial tissues for years. Hubspot is beginning to own inbound marketing. And now Starbucks owns the pumpkin spice latte. Although Starbucks is just as capable as any other coffee shop to supply a pumpkin flavored drink, because of their strategic marketing they have come to own the space. As a result of this, the PSL has become synonymous with Starbucks. When the consumer thinks pumpkin spice latte, it is assumed that Starbucks is the vendor. 

Keyword Mentions Report

This keyword analytics report taken from the Traackr platform compares mentions of the most popular Starbucks drinks against the ever popular PSL. Out of a list of 50 influencers in the coffee industry, 44 of them have mentioned pumpkin spiced latte in the past 90 days. While other drinks yield minimal mentions, PSL has yielded 477 mentions within the past 90 days. This year the PSL launched in all stores on September 8th, where the mentions spike. PSL massively outperforms all other popular Starbucks drinks by a long shot. (Curious about how many times your brand’s top products are mentioned among your influencers? It’s probably time we talk.)

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