The Pumpkin Spice Latte

When you think about Fall, what comes to mind? Some of you may think of trees changing colors, the air getting cooler, and the festivities that ensue such as hayrides at farms or pumpkin picking. Well these thoughts are just the bare-minimum starting point for what marketers consider when they are advertising for seasonal markets! Let’s take a look at an example of what a marketing campaign for the fall season may look like…

STARBUCKS PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE: It is the unavoidable drink of the fall season. In America, the Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) is well known and beloved throughout the months of September and November. Forbes magazine notes how the PSL and holiday drinks are crucial to Starbucks’ fall performance.


The PSL is an annual campaign that brings in a larger revenue for Starbucks during the holiday season due to the exclusivity of the product. Exclusivity is a great marketing strategy; it says that it can only be sold by one corporation and offers a sense of belonging with the brand because of the uniqueness of the product. Customers know that they can expect this product to be sold at a certain time during the calendar year when this is true, it encourages customers to stay loyal to that experience even in times when this exclusive product is not being offered.

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When a product creates a movement such as the PSL at Starbucks, it can lead to a larger following. Some of you may remember when Starbucks released the Unicorn Frappuccino in the Spring of 2017. There was so much media coverage around this rare and exclusive drink. Even if you were not a Starbucks customer, people wanted to try it for themselves because of the movement and excitement that surrounded it. The PSL does just this once a year and it something loyal customers can count on for the fall!

Marketing for the occasion, in this case being the fall season, is a way for a brand to stay relevant and increase publicity and sales during certain times in the year. Starbucks uses every season to their advantage for selling hot and cold drinks. Fall is the most successful season for the company due to the hot drinks being what most people drink. Using the PSL as their” reason-for-the-season” assists them in sales, publicity, and drawing in new crowds.

Drink on, coffee drinkers. I hope you find joy in the season of pumpkins.


-June Crawford

7 thoughts on “The Pumpkin Spice Latte

  1. Hey June,
    I have never tried a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks, but every Fall I am so tempted to because all of the ads and commercials that make it seem so appealing! I enjoyed reading about how Starbucks uses PSL’s for their marketing campaign each Fall to boost their performance. I feel that it definitely attracts an audience of people who are eager to experience the taste of a PSL. I have friends who countdown the days all year until Starbucks starts serving PSL’s, so I’d say their marketing strategy is a success!!

  2. As I am reading your article, I am drinking a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino from the Starbucks on campus. I like how you said that the PSL campaign created movement for Starbucks, I can definitely see how that has evolved over the years. I remember all the media coverage over the Unicorn Frappuccino. It is amazing to me that a pink, sweet, cotton candy looking drink became so popular at a coffee place. Great post!

  3. As someone who spends all year waiting for the PSL, I definitely found this post interesting. It’s odd to think that a coffee shop is cashing in on seasonal spending like many other companies do if you present the notion out of context. It’s just coffee, right? But when you mention that the company cashing in is Starbucks, people just take it for what it is. Starbucks has PSL in the fall, Peppermint Mocha Latte in the winter, and some fancy new frappacino in the spring and summer. They know what people want and they know what people will spend $4-6 dollars on.

  4. After reading your article on the overly famous “Pumpkin Spice Latte”, I do not understand what this fad is about when fall comes around that this is the number one thing people think of. Although they are delicious the media that is brought upon the words pumpkin spice is uncanny. People think of many stereotypical situations when they also think of pumpkin spice. The even sometimes relate to a “basic girl” loving pumpkin spice which they aren’t wrong almost every girl around America that can get their hands on one of these would anytime they come into contact with a coffee shop.

  5. This is an interesting article. With the instant popularity of the PSL, Starbucks realized that people will pay for a “coffee” experience. Even if they don’t typically like pumpkin spice, they will probably try it because there is so much hype surrounding it. The day that the unicorn frappuccino made it’s debut, the line at my local starbucks was out the door all day. When it comes to Starbucks, people are not paying for quality coffee, they are paying for a cute social media post.

  6. I enjoyed the originality of this post. You not only informed us of the famous PSL but talked about the marketing strategies used when promoting the drink. A consumer rarely considers the careful marketing put into their drink. These strategies can also be applied to many other seasonal favorites amongst other brands. As someone looking into advertising as a possible career path, I found this article interesting and helpful!

  7. I’ve always wanted to try a PSL, but due to a recent discovery of my allergy to an ingredient in pumpkin spice, that option has been taken off the auction block. Exclusivity, I agree, is a great marketing tool to making a product popular among consumers. I wonder what the revenue numbers are like for menu items that were originally exclusive to a period of time become regulars on a menu.

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