How to (Pumpkin) Spice Up Your Marketing Strategy

marketing strategyWhen the fall season rolls around, two words captivate the seasonal marketing world like no other: Pumpkin Spice.

There is no doubt that the flavor of pumpkin spice is the reigning queen of the marketing season, but why is this flavor so popular?  When did the pumpkin spice revolution happen?  Most importantly, how can your business learn from its success?

Pumpkin spice is nothing more than a simple blend of powdered cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg used to flavor pumpkin pie, but it packs a huge punch this time of year.  It was never considered a revolutionary flavor until Starbucks decided to introduce the Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003.  It has been 13 years since its debut, but so far the Pumpkin Spice Latte has been served over 200 million times and has generated $80 million each year in annual revenue.

With numbers like these, it’s no wonder that other companies have decided to take advantage of the pumpkin spice craze, which shows no sign of going away anytime soon.  Here are some lessons learned from Starbucks’ marketing of the Pumpkin Spice Latte and how you can apply them to your own marketing strategy.

 

Listen to Feedback, Both Positive and Negative

Since the Pumpkin Spice Latte was introduced to the Starbucks menu in 2003 it has received positive feedback from both customers and the coffee industry, but not everyone was feeling the love for the PSL.  In 2014, Starbucks faced some backlash when it was revealed that they were using false advertising, claiming that they used real pumpkins in their flavoring when this was not the case.  In response, Starbucks listened to the criticism from their angered customer base and modified their recipe to include real pumpkin.

From this, business owners can learn the value of listening to your clientele and making tweaks in your model to provide a better customer experience.  Of course business owners never want to hear anything negative about their product or service, but if there is an issue, it should be addressed timely and accordingly to prevent further damage to your reputation.

 

Create a Storytelling Experience

One does not merely drink a Pumpkin Spice Latte, they drink up memories of fall seasons past.  While many pumpkin spice fans enjoy the flavor, they also enjoy the ambiance of the season that comes along with it.  Starbucks has capitalized on this, implementing specially designated Twitter and Instagram feeds where fans can share their favorite fall memories while enjoying a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Connecting with your audience’s emotional appeals is a great way to bolster any marketing strategy.  You are far more likely to sell a product or promote a service if you can tap into the human side of marketing, conveying a certain feeling or transporting your customers to a specific time and place.

 

Get Interactive

 

marketing strategyStarbucks knows Pumpkin Spice isn’t anything especially innovative, but they make up for that by capitalizing on the fun aspect of marketing their top selling flavor.  Starbucks has made it a priority to get involved during the peak pumpkin popularity by engaging with its avid fan base on social media.  Whenever the fall season is drawing near, Starbucks launches their annual social media campaign to announce the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, and continues to engage with fans throughout the fall.

Business should also consider adding a level of interactivity in their marketing strategy.  Breaking the wall between business and consumer will only add to the customer experience, and this engagement could set you apart from the competition.

 

Offer Exclusive Seasonal Deals

Exclusivity is one of the oldest tricks in the marketing book, and Starbucks does it better than anyone this time of year.  One of the draws of the pumpkin spice craze is that it is only offered for a limited time.  This makes it an exclusive once-a-year treat special to those looking to get their hands on the coveted Pumpkin Spice Latte before it retires again for that year.

Small businesses should take this into consideration when brainstorming ideas for seasonal sales relevant to your products or services.  Create some hype around your business by offering limited time offers that only come one once in awhile.  Find time frames that work for you and your business.  For example, a cleaning company might want to offer special deals in April during spring cleaning season, and an office supply store might want to promote some exclusive offers in August for back to school shopping.

 

Be as Bold as Your Brew

Pumpkin Spice Lattes are certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, and Starbucks was certainly not the first company to introduce it to their lineup, but they certainly have been the most successful at marketing themselves as a staple in the pumpkin spice season.  This is because they went bold with their marketing strategy, first creating their own hype on social media and letting it spread like a domino effect.  

Your business can follow in Starbucks’ footsteps, creating your own bold and fearless marketing campaign.  Think outside the box, experiment with innovative ideas, and see what resonates best with your audience.


Are you ready to spice up your business’ marketing strategy?  Whether you’re looking for the newest trends in digital marketing or just looking to put a fresh spin on some old marketing tactics, our team of marketing specialists know just how to promote your business.  Contact us today to see how we can add that extra kick to promoting your business through email marketing, social media marketing, and more.

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