You know fall has officially arrived (or soon will) when Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte makes its annual return. And when it does, well, let’s just say some people go a little crazy.
We sort of get what the hubbub is all about. The Pumpkin Spice Latte tastes amazing, especially if you’re wearing a turtleneck while walking through the park in late October. Never mind the fact that we’re not really sure if it tastes like pumpkin, in much the same way that grape juice doesn’t taste like grapes.
But we digress …
According to research firm Datassential MenuTrends, the use of pumpkin as a featured flavor has increased steadily over the past five years at U.S. restaurant chains. Actually, “steadily” might be understating the trend. Since 2007, offerings incorporating fall’s favorite flavor have risen more than 400 percent.
Starbucks isn’t alone in its September embrace of pumpkin. The Seattle-based chain’s chief competitor, Dunkin’ Donuts, has begun offering its own version of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. And the brand is looking beyond beverages. Its seasonal menu also includes pumpkin donuts and pumpkin muffins. If neither of those options sounds good, you can have pumpkin cream cheese (sorry, there’s still no pumpkin bagel – at least not yet).
Want to get your pumpkin fix at home? Dunkin’ Donuts can help with that, too. The chain is offering pumpkin-flavored coffee in pods that can be used in the Keurig K-Cup Brewing Systems. If you’d like even more pumpkin flavor in your cup ‘o joe, there’s no shortage of pumpkin-flavored coffee creamers to choose from at your local grocery store.
But why stop there? Take a stroll through the supermarket and you’ll find Jello Pumpkin Spice pudding and Thomas’ Pumpkin Spice bagels (on which to spread the Dunkin Donuts cream cheese, perhaps?). Then there’s Planters Pumpkin Spice Almonds, for that gotta-have-pumpkin midday snack. Later on, you can enjoy some Pumpkin Spice Hershey’s Kisses or some pumpkin-flavored marshmallows.
For dessert, Entenmann’s has a Pumpkin Loaf, while Betty Crocker offers a Pumpkin Spice Cookie Mix. We won’t even mention the multitude of pumpkin-related ice creams in the freezer aisle and seasonal pumpkin beers at wherever it is that you buy beer in your state. And when you wake up from your pumpkin coma the next day, you can start your adventure all over again with some Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts.
What’s it all add up to? A whole lotta pumpkin, that’s what. And you’d better get it soon before the eggnog and peppermint stuff take over the shelves. Oh, wait …
MARKETING LESSON: Maybe it’s time for your brand to consider a pumpkin-based seasonal option. On second thought, maybe not.