Why have we become so obsessed?
One of the most anticipated and profitable times of every year begins once August rolls around. The air cools down, the leaves start falling, and that means it’s time for pumpkin season. People start spreading word that it’s time for pumpkin spice to come back and are waiting with anticipation for restaurants and grocery stores to make the announcement of the pumpkin flavored products.
One of these restaurants is Starbucks. They first introduced the pumpkin spice latte (PSL) back in 2003 and since then it is the company most commonly associated with the pumpkin spice flavor. Back in 2003 the flavor didn’t even use pumpkin though, “In fact, the PSL didn’t even contain pumpkin until 2015. It just used spices commonly added to pumpkin pies” (Beausoleil, 2021). Despite this fact Starbucks still made nearly $100 million in PSL’s.
Photo by Starbucks Japan
Companies, as the years have passed, are noticing different consumer trends. Consumers are liking more pumpkin flavored things, and this is when different grocery stores and brands have adopted the flavor to attract customers just like Starbucks. Multiple brands saw an opportunity to create some interesting pumpkin flavored products, “No product is off limits when it comes to pumpkin spice. Bud Light saw an opportunity to ride two trends and released a Pumpkin Spice Seltzer.” And “At Trader Joe’s pumpkin tortilla chips have been a seasonal treat for over half a decade” (Beausoleil, 2021).
Photo by Scott Suchman for the Washington Post
So why exactly is pumpkin spice an industry worth more than $500 million? In an article by Market Scale, “marketing specialists note that there are multiple reasons for its popularity including a time limit on availability, positive associations with the fall and related holidays, and indulging a sweet tooth” (Castiglia, 2022). In addition to this, an article from The Guardian shares that “pumpkin season, which officially began the last Tuesday of August when Starbucks released its fall drinks menu, is not the same as fall. It’s more about the idea of fall” (Levitt, 2022). Because of the success rate of the flavor back in 2003 and the concept of pumpkin spice being this ‘idea of fall’ the flavor has increased in popularity every year.
To some people pumpkin is one of the best flavors and they patiently wait for it to return every year. Others claim they don’t like the pumpkin flavor or are tired of it. But, based on the more than 20 years that pumpkin flavored products have been around, it doesn’t seem like the pumpkin craze will be slowing down anytime soon.