One Pumpkin Spice Latte with a side of marketing success, please.
The Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks has been a popular fall menu staple for years.
Fall classics such as apple cider, your mom’s soup recipes and beautiful changing leaves used to be the dominant signs that fall was just around the corner. But this year, the Pumpkin Spice Latte started a frenzy when Starbucks introduced it much earlier in the season than usual.
This year marks the 10th anniversary for the Pumpkin Spice Latte, known widely as PSL, and according to Forbes, Starbucks has sold more than 200 million over the past ten years! That means there are approximately 20 million PSLs sold every year. At the basic price of about $4 for a grande (medium), the PSL will generate at least $80 million in revenue this fall for Starbucks. The company says the PSL is by far its most popular seasonal beverage.
Why is this hot espresso drink so popular and successful?
Some may say they find comfort in the warm and spicy drink, taking them back to childhood memories on the farm or celebrating Thanksgiving with family around the dinner table. For others, the limited availability may drive them to “get it while it’s hot” (pun intended). A few may just like the sweet and spicy taste. Meanwhile, marketing professionals would probably argue that the PSL is popular because of Starbucks’ smart marketing campaign through social media and TV spots.
Starbucks has always been great at marketing. They know the perfect way to connect with their target audience, which is men and women ages 25-40. Through hip, contemporary designs and messaging, Starbucks keeps its brand and products top-of-mind. They understand that their target market represents the demographics using social media most heavily, which is probably why Starbucks ramped up the social media component of its PSL campaign so much this year.
The PSL has been popular since before Twitter, Instagram and Facebook were founded, but the smart marketers at Starbucks have incorporated social media into an evolving strategy that continues to grow the beverage’s popularity every year. The PSL has it’s own hashtag (#PSL) for dedicated sippers to post their favorite drink on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Starbucks has been heavily using this hashtag to promote the PSL on Instagram and Twitter. The PSL also has its own Facebook page where users can share experiences and gush about how much they love the drink.
I decided to try the famous Pumpkin Spice Latte this season because their social media campaign was top-notch and convincing. I took one sip and fell into nostalgia for my grandmother’s farm when I was young. We always celebrated Thanksgiving with pumpkin pie, and that latte tasted exactly like it. It brought back memories of my family sitting around the huge dinner table, exchanging laughs and eating amazing food. Now I get it – one sip and it takes you down memory lane.
Next time you drive by Starbucks, give the PSL a try, although it may be in a red cup because they are launching the holiday campaign very soon! And, that’s a marketing blog post for another day.