Wednesday, November 4, 2020

A Latte Insight on Pumpkin Spice

 Each year, as summer fades into fall, there are certain autumn classics people anticipate, even during a pandemic: hay rides, football, raking leaves, etc. A relative newcomer to that list is pumpkin spice. Leading the pumpkin spice charge is the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte that hit the market in 2003. Analysis of Google Trends data for the term “pumpkin spice” indicates that it was not until several years after the release of Starbucks’ iconic fall beverage that the pumpkin-spice bandwagon really got rolling. Google Trends data goes back to 2004. This data analyzes the popularity of search queries from Google searches.

The Google Trends chart shown below covers Google search queries for the term “pumpkin spice” for the time period from 2004 to the present. The horizontal axis represents time, while the vertical axis represents interest in a given Google search term, here, “pumpkin spice.” Regarding the vertical axis — from Google Trends: “Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term.”

(Chart from Google Trends)

Increasing Popularity

To simplify, the higher the graph, the more popularity for the search term. So, in the mid- to late-2000s, pumpkin spice had moderate growth, and then began to take off around the turn of the decade. As seen above, pumpkin spice reached peak popularity in September 2017.


Also apparent is the seasonality of pumpkin spice, which can be seen in the spikes that occur each fall. Of note to pumpkin spice geeks is the day on which those spikes reach a peak. In 2004, the peak occurred on Nov. 25, Thanksgiving Day. Analysis of the annual peak for each of the years for which Google Trends has data indicates that, each fall, there is a peak around Thanksgiving. That peak has remained around Thanksgiving, but over time, a spike began to develop earlier (in September). It’s telling that as pumpkin spice has become more popular, companies saw the marketing value of providing pumpkin spice products, which caused consumers to anticipate a new wave of products as summer winds down.

Change in Seasonal Peak

Thanksgiving represented peak popularity of pumpkin spice season until 2016 when, as shown in the chart below, pumpkin spice peaked higher on Sept. 1 than Thanksgiving (Nov. 24) over two months later. Not only has this early-season peak surpassed the Thanksgiving peak every year since 2016, but the early-season peak has continued to start sooner, such that, for 2020, the peak was Aug. 25. Marketers have continued pushing pumpkin spice further into August as this year, Dunkin’ rolled out its Pumpkin Spice Latte on Aug. 19. Can July Pumpkin Spice be far off?
(Chart from Google Trends)

What started primarily with adding pumpkin spice to a drink, has, like every great entrepreneurial activity, spun into adding pumpkin spice to just about every conceivable product. A couple highlights, and the year they debuted, are noted below. Hurry up and get your pumpkin spice fill, because Starbucks releases its suite of festive beverages, including Peppermint Mocha, in less than a week, Nov. 7.

Timeline of Pumpkin Spice Products

2007 – Dunkin’s Pumpkin Flavor Swirl

Not to be left in the dust by Starbucks, the Pumpkin Flavor Swirl can be added to coffees, lattes, and other drinks.

2012 – Pringles Pumpkin Pie Spice

“Once you pop, you can’t stop” did not apply to this Pringles variety as it was discontinued.

2015 – Hostess Pumpkin Spice Twinkies

Eighty-five years after the snack cake was invented, it got a fall makeover.

2015 – Clear American Pumpkin Spice Sparkling Water

Evidence that anything can be turned into a pumpkin-spice product.

2017 – Greenies Pumpkin Spice Flavor Dental Treats

Fido is no longer left out of the pumpkin spice craze.

2017 – Native Pumpkin Spice Latte Deodorant

Keep that pumpkin spice scent with you long after you’ve finished your morning pumpkin spice latte.

2019 – Hormel Foods Pumpkin Spice Spam

In 2017, Spam shared a picture on its Facebook page of Pumpkin Spice Spam, a product that was not real and meant solely as a joke. The picture went viral, the product became a reality in 2019, and it sold out in hours. No doubt the café’s Viking patrons in the Monty Python “Spam” sketch would be big fans.

No comments :

Post a Comment