Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice: Lessons in Content Marketing From Starbucks

pumpkin spice latteSummer is coming to a close, leaves are about to start turning, and Starbucks is reinstating its famous Pumpkin Spice Latte for eager customers who have been waiting all year. They’re not the only ones, though – each fall sees an annual resurgence of pumpkin-flavored products. Let’s look at what makes a seasonal trend work.

You Know It’s Fall When…

…Starbucks releases pumpkin spice lattes again!

In all seriousness, though, Starbucks has not only created a seasonal product; the company has also carved out an important piece of the season for itself. Their site segment “How do you know it’s fall?” allows viewers to enter their own tweets into a form, pre-hashtagged with #itsfallwhen. The implication, of course, is that you know it’s fall when you can get yourself a pumpkin spice latte, but it’s definitely a fun interactive way that Starbucks uses content – both its own and user-generated – to market its product.

Content for Any Season

Fall isn’t, of course, the only time of year that Starbucks makes sure to keep its content up to date. Last year, Starbucks launched its Valentine’s-themed edition of its Cup Magic app. The key to Starbucks’s content year-round, however, is its focus on interactivity and entertainment. Starbucks plays on entertainment value and our feelings surrounding certain seasons on top of the interactivity factor. Seasonal content from Starbucks is, simply put, just plain fun.

Capitalizing on a Trend

Other companies have tried to find ways to jump on the bandwagon. Last year, pumpkin spice was available as a flavor not just in coffee, but also in soymilk, Jell-O pudding, granola bars, Hershey’s Kisses, and even supermarket bagels. Dunkin’ Donuts rivaled Starbucks with its pumpkin coffee, and even touted a series of fall-themed pastries to boot. Even the Huffington Post has noted that when pumpkin flavors pop up, you know fall is on its way.

What’s it all mean? Well, for one thing, if a trend is working, it’s worth it to figure out why, and whether it might work for you. Some consumers may have found pumpkin spice bagels, or perhaps even more out of left field, pumpkin-flavored Pringles, to be pretty unnecessary. But if it’s working, it’s working. Starbucks has proved that pumpkin spice coffee, along with the right seasonal content, has earned its place in what makes fall, well, fall.

The seasonal pumpkin trend might not be right for your business, but what timely or seasonal trends can you capitalize on to keep customers coming back?

The following two tabs change content below.


Tree is a somewhat nomadic graduate student pursuing an MFA in Poetry and Literary Translation from Drew University. A self-identified “diplobrat,” she spent over 16 years living as an expat in countries like Guatemala, Bolivia, and Tanzania. Tree graduated from Smith College in 2012 with a degree in Spanish Language and Literature, a minor in Studio Art, and a concentration in Landscape Studies. In between writing poetry for school and content for CEM, she dabbles in goat herding and freelancing. Other interests include reading, watercolor painting, gardening, and traveling.

Latest posts by Tree (see all)

    Related Posts:

    Share This