Starbucks Leads the Pumpkin Spice Marketing Competition

Christine Birkner
Marketing News Weekly
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Key Takeaways
  • ​Social media software provider Infegy released a report, "Social Media Insights for the Pumpkin Spice Latte," with a rundown of the drink's branding power.
  • Starbucks has sold more than 200 million pumpkin spice lattes since its debut in 2003.
  • Starbucks' "PSL" garnered a higher rate of customer sentiment than pumpkin-flavored drinks from Dunkin' Donuts and McDonald's, Infegy reported.

Fall is here. Have you had your pumpkin spice latte fix yet?

In August, Kansas City, Mo.-based social media software provider Infegy released a report called “Social Media Insights for the Pumpkin Spice Latte,” offering a rundown of the branding power of Starbucks’ popular seasonal latte, which has garnered a loyal following, with more than 200 million drinks sold since its debut in 2003, according to Starbucks. In 2014, Starbucks created a Twitter account, @TheRealPSL, to promote the latte, and this year, the company promoted the seasonal offering on Twitter and Tumblr, and through digital and in-store efforts.

Infegy measured customer sentiment for pumpkin-flavored beverages from January 2010 to July 2015 and found that Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte garnered a slightly higher rate of customer sentiment (77%) than Dunkin’ Donuts pumpkin-flavored drink (76%) and also beat out McDonald’s seasonal contender (56%). Among pumpkin-flavored beverages, Starbucks garnered the most social media posts for that time period, as well, with more than 2.5 million, compared with 196,551 for Dunkin’ Donuts and 86,466 for McDonald’s, Infegy reports.

In September, Port Washington, N.Y.-based research firm NPD Group released a study on pumpkin spice latte purchase behavior. Seventy-two percent of pumpkin spice latte consumers purchase the drink once per year, while 20% purchase it twice and 8% make three or more purchases during the offer period. However, during the fall and winter of 2014, pumpkin spice latte buyers spent more per store visit than other beverage drinkers, with an average check amount of $7.81, compared with $6.67 for other customers, NPD reports.​ 

This article was originally published in the September 29, 2015, issue of Marketing News Weekly​​​​.​

Author Bio:
Christine Birkner
Christine Birkner is the senior staff writer for Marketing News and Marketing News Weekly.
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