There’s a Latte to Learn from Pumpkin Spice Marketing

As August has come to a close and September begins again, the cool breeze of autumn eases the summer heat (not yet, but we’re getting there). The smell of fall in the air and the drop in temperature marks the annual return of a marketing juggernaut: Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte.


While many fans see the drink as nothing more than a seasonal indulgence, Starbucks’ diligent work over the last 13 years has turned the Pumpkin Spice Latte, more commonly known as the PSL, into a branding icon.

How did they do it? We took a look at their campaigns, as well as some much-needed taste tests, and found a few key tactics that any business can learn from. Take a look below:

Get Social

The PSL has evolved into more than just a beverage. It is a persona. The drink has its own Twitter account that chronicles the whimsical adventures of the PSL. Starbucks has harnessed the power of social media to connect fans with their favorite autumn treat.

Getting involved on social platforms will give more recognition to your product while creating engagement among fans. It may not be necessary to have an account for your product but posting interesting content about it will enhance your brand and build a stronger organic following.

Thinking Ahead and Creating Hype

Enjoying a PSL is just one part of Starbucks’ flagship campaign. Most of the work is done weeks in advance to build up excitement around the campaign – a tactic many companies do when debuting a new product. So, while summer is in full swing, Starbucks begins injecting pumpkin spice into their marketing, getting their audience to think ahead to the coming season.

If you have a popular product or service that is only available for a limited time, engage your audience before its release. By creating a conversation early, you can harness the power word of mouth and build excitement prior to launch.

Don’t be afraid to introduce something new with an already popular product. This tactic can potentially create another successful product by utilizing the strength of the original product. Starbucks uses this marketing technique almost every year and this season is no different with the launch of the new Chili Mocha, alongside of the PSL.

Imitated But Never Duplicated

When a trend or product sees success, other industries will inevitably jump on the bandwagon. Pumpkin spice is no exception. While Starbucks wasn’t the first to the pumpkin patch, they are arguably the face of the Pumpkin Spice craze. Soaps, beer and even dog treats have received a pumpkin spice makeover within the last few years.

The lesson? Leverage the success of your most popular products to not only maintain its popularity but also create new popularity around other products. In today’s marketing environment, social sharing leads to more brand exposure. A popular product can be an invaluable tool for generating success.



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