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A Look into Pumpkin Spice
By: Janet Kalandranis
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Here’s the thing. Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte is back again, yet earlier. Each year the timeframe shifts around and somehow more days are added to this successful campaign. It’s not clear whether Starbucks knew how BIG Pumpkin Spice would be until years later, but it’s really demanding its own strategy, its own marketing plan, and of course its own focus. Pumpkin Spice is a brand within a brand. One that has gained a following that brings customers into Starbucks more than they go in the “off season," and even some newcomers that rarely hit up Starbucks. But the great thing about the Pumpkin Spice Latte is that it has new news every year. The product is exactly the same but the way it’s branded gives customers reason enough to sip for 10 years straight. And maybe there’s something to be said for limiting this successful product’s timeframe. It allows Starbucks to really create a promotion around a loved product and focus on the limited-time offering. And how does Starbucks do that? Details below.

This year Pumpkin Spice got a little more modern. It moved to a shortened name, received some coffee sleeve space, and of course is making its way around the social media world. Starbucks, as expected, realized that a seasonal product cannot simply be the same deal year after year. Customers want something new and not with the product, but just how it reminds them of how much they love it. So this year the Pumpkin Spice Latte is being referred to as PSL. Why? Because it’s so well known that now a shortcut has caught on and this product is staying relevant. PSL also has its own hashtag, and a very successful one at that. #PSL is used by Starbucks itself, but more importantly by customers who show their love of the beverage. And with celebrating 10 years, Starbucks put a focus around PSL with a coffee sleeve that is replacing all others within stores. It’s a way to put the focus back on this successful product while making sure customers feel excited year in and year out.

It’s pretty definite that if Starbucks wanted to sell PSLs every day, they could. But they don’t. Instead the brand focuses on creating a mini-celebration every year when the product is available. Because maybe customers wouldn’t love the PSL as much if it were offered all year round. Maybe they crave the celebration, the pumpkin flavoring, and the change of seasons (in some geographic areas). But one thing’s for sure; Starbuck’s is doing the PSL right. The brand gave this beverage its own signature name, its own season, and of course its own success. 

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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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