Although today is the official first day of fall, pumpkin flavored lattes and #sweaterweather advertisements have filled our newsfeeds for weeks. Preparation for America’s “favorite season” is a prime example of strategic planning when it comes to IMC. Companies, such as Starbucks, take no mercy on branding fall for a profit. Take a look at the Starbucks home page:
“Celebrate the flavor of fall” with pumpkin spiced teas and pump bottles of artificial pumpkin flavor. Starbucks goes above and beyond by defining fall and reminding us it is time to put a dent in the pumpkin population and enjoy this fantastic, fall sensation. Keep scrolling and you will find the “Fall Drinkware” section of their website, offering a variety of different orange coffee mugs for about 20 bucks a piece.
A little much? Well, according to Fortune Magazine, Starbucks reported a 10% increase in the fiscal fourth-quarter sales in 2014. Evidently pumpkin spice does come at a price. The company is reportedly brewing up more ideas and plan to add to the recipe by creating a “fall flavored” line of sodas, smoothies, and yogurts. Limiting the availability of these fall treats help build upon the chic image Starbucks maintains to its publics. Though some may gasp at the thought of paying over 5 dollars for one of these sought after lattes, to many, fall just wouldn’t “be in the air” without them.
S. Alyssa Groom wrote in her article, Integrated Marketing Communication Anticipating the “Age of Engage”, that it is now impossible to create a marketing plan to follow at the beginning of the year. Starbucks’ creation of this fall line is a prime example of Groom’s theory. The company has broken the marketing year into segments and focuses on specific aspects of what is popular and “hip” during that market period. Groom also mentions that “marketing can no longer stand alone” and the importance of customer engagement. Through social media pages dedicated to this fall line and the creation of hashtags, Starbucks makes purchasing one of their fall items interactive. Allowing for customers to post pictures, tag the company, generate new hashtags and register for giveaways. These strategies get the customer excited about going out and buying Starbucks products. Customers now “buy into” the Starbucks brand, going beyond a simple cup of coffee.
-Luke, Dan, Amanda, Meleah and Kendall
I for one am not a huge fan of the pumpkin spice latte. But that is all I’ve heard about for the past month. “OMG, STARBUCKS PUMPKIN SPICE!!! #basic” I think this is more than just a liking for the flavor, I believe this is a yearly trend for the fall season. Especially with all the advertising, with the pictures/posts/hashtags, this seasonally trend will be sticking around for a while.
We understand your pain! How do you think companies could move away from the pumpkin craze?
The Pumpkin Spice Latte craze is part of pop culture now, with references to it on all social media platforms. I have never tried it but you definitely know that fall has hit when you start seeing pumpkin spice hashtags and references over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Starbucks has done a great job of marketing this product, however, it is equally the loyal consumer’s and even the opposers who make this drink so popular. Like is said in this article, by customer engagement such as them referring to Starbucks and this drink consistently so that it is showing up on peoples’ feeds, the product has sky rocketed, and it is no wonder that the sales went up 10%. Furthermore, customers link pumpkin spice lattes with such things as coziness, apple picking, sweater weather, and other things that come with the fall season, which makes people think that the product will enhance these fall attributes and activities. Now, this drink and its origin is an icon for fall among young and middle-aged collectives around America.
You had some great insight! Do you think companies will be able to move away from the ‘pumpkin craze’ and start a new trend or is this around for god?
It is really crazy to see how much of a phenomenon pumpkin spice has become. Every fall you can watch all kinds of different food products come out with a special edition pumpkin spice flavor. I think it’s a smart move on the part of companies to take advantage of this trend but they should also be careful as to what foods are flavored pumpkin. Companies should keep in mind that there is a limit and some things are best left in their original flavor.
We couldn’t agree more! What is the most interesting thing you have seen that has been turned pumpkin flavored for the season?
I have tried the Starbucks famous Pumpkin Spice Latte and I just do not understand all of the hype. With the change of each season, Starbucks lovers all across America are looking forward to the specialty flavors that are released. Another seasonal drink that gets just as much attention is the white peppermint mocha latte during the wintertime. Starbucks really does a great job of marketing their products because people are talking about their seasonal drinks all of the time. Although it may be annoying to hear every girl on campus freaking out about their pumpkin spice latte, I’ve got to give props to Starbucks for starting this seasonal coffee revolution.
Do you think Starbucks could start another coffee flavor revolution?
I’ve always been a fan of pumpkin-flavored food. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cider, and now there’s the Pumpkin Spice latte! I think I’ve tried it before, and enjoyed it. A bit pricey, but tastes pretty good. I hope they bring it back the next year too!
We don’t think the Pumpkin Spice Latte is going anywhere! Do you think they should start marketing it differently?
Starbucks must be doing something right with their marketing because every time I get on Facebook, someone is showing me a picture of their Starbucks drink. I also agree that taking advantage of the fact that people really enjoy fall themed items and pumpkin flavors in the fall is very smart. If these things were offered year-round, they would certainly lose their popularity very quickly.
When you get on Facebook is the ads that catch your attention or a post from a friend featuring a Pumpkin Spice Latte? Either way, it’s great marketing for pumpkin flavored anything!
I work at Starbucks, and I can definitely attest to the fact that Starbucks uses the strategy of “market periods.” During the summer, we had certain flavors limited to that season and certain promotions to go along with it. As soon as the end of August came around, my manager started breaking out the fall decorations and products, and customers increasingly began coming in asking if we had pumpkin spice yet. This pumpkin spice craze has become such a part of our culture that people have actually started coming in and ordering a “PSL” instead of a “Pumpkin Spice Latte.” Now that we’re getting into October, people are coming in and asking if we have some of the flavors that won’t be out until the holiday season. The idea of using market periods is definitely effective and makes companies a lot of money, especially when you have customers just waiting for those periods to come back around.
This was some great insight, thank you! Marketing periods are very unique and great marketing strategies because they make specific products controlled by the brand and leave consumer begging for them to back. What other experience do you have with some of Starbucks’ marketing strategies?