It’s fall! That means it’s time for all things pumpkin spice. From coffee and pastries to Pringles® and vodka, the pumpkin spice craze has spread like wildfire and shows little signs of stopping.
It wasn’t always this way. Before Starbucks launched its phenomenally popular Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003, pumpkin spice items were considered uncommon. Here’s the story of the coffee giant’s pumpkin-flavored money maker and how the latte’s meteoric rise helped launch a nation-wide pumpkin spice craze.
In the beginning, Starbucks created the Pumpkin Spice Latte. And it was good…
Motivated by the success of its limited-time holiday beverages (think Peppermint Mocha), the team at Starbucks set out to create a similar drink for fall. Though pumpkin spice didn’t fare well in customer surveys or initial taste tests, product manager Peter Dukes was certain there was something there. He tweaked and championed the pumpkin-flavored option, and Starbucks’ execs listened. This calculated risk paid off…big time.
A year after the introduction of the Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL for short), Starbucks’ sales spiked 11 percent compared with the previous year, thanks in large part to the new hit drink. To date, Starbucks has sold more than 200 million PSLs, earning the company millions of dollars in additional revenue. Throughout the years, thousands of fans took to social media to express their love for the Pumpkin Spice Latte, and the beloved beverage now has its own social media following.
In 2014, Starbucks launched Pumpkin Spice Latte Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr accounts. Combined, PSL has well over 100,000 followers and regularly engages fans with contests, games, access to rewards and promotions, and more. Naturally, PSL also has its own hashtag, #PSL, which fans use in fun, creative ways.
The Pumpkin Spice Effect
Following the popularity of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, more and more brands have hopped on the pumpkin spice train. If you want coffee, there are several other pumpkin spice offerings, not to mention countless pumpkin spice beers and pumpkin-infused whiskey, vodka, and rum.
Hungry? How do pumpkin spice Oreos sound? Or what about pumpkin spice chocolate, cereal, marshmallows, or beef jerky? If you prefer the smell of pumpkin spice to the taste of it, there are loads of pumpkin spice candles, lotions, and air fresheners. And that’s just the tip of the pumpkin-spice iceberg.
Of course, not everyone is fan. Some claim pumpkin spice items are for “basic” people (read insufferably boring and unoriginal) who will gobble up just about anything marketers throw at them. Others live and die by the spice and look forward to the season of pumpkin spice everything. What about you?
How do you feel about pumpkin spice? Here’s how our office rates it!