Pumpkin spice produces a multibillion-dollar market. In 2018 alone, there was $600 billion produced from pumpkin spice related products. The leading category was pie filling, but a close second was the infamous, Starbucks. Starbucks has become a coffee giant and continues to pioneer economically.
Every fall, there it is, pumpkin spice. Whether it’s different beverages or even dog food. There are no pumpkin spice limitations. The more I walk down the grocery stores aisles, the more I wonder why? Why does every product imaginable need to have a subsequent pumpkin spice duplicate? Personally, I have never rode the pumpkin spice train and stirred clear of it as long as I could. However, enough is enough. After seeing dozens of people ordering pumpkin spiced items at our campus’ Starbucks and seeing the dozens of Instagram posts about “Pumpkin Spice Season,” I decided to do the unimaginable, try pumpkin spice.
Tentatively, I went to Starbucks. The most popular fall drink is the Pumpkin Spice Latte. However, I decided to order a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino. I mean you can’t go wrong with a frap…. right? I went back to my dorm and then the experiment began. The first sip was the moment of truth. Will I like it, or will it be the worst thing that I ever decided to partake in and regret my life choices? Is pumpkin spice worth the hype? I don’t know but I will later find out.
Um ok, was my initial reaction to my first pumpkin spice sip. The first sip was always the worst no matter what you drink, so I had another. This can’t be right, my second sip. Are you kidding me? My third sip. There’s no way, my fourth. I’ve decided, my fifth. All it took were five sips. Five sips concluded that pumpkin spice is indeed NOT WORTH THE HYPE!
There were so many thoughts that filled my head. I was confused, mad, annoyed, and dismayed. I couldn’t believe that pumpkin spice has gotten so much admiration, especially within the Starbucks community. With that, I decided to do some research. Being a business major, I was very interested in how companies were able to monopolize off this continuous seasonal trend.
Queue the history lecture: It all began in the early 1990s, where pumpkin spice began trending as the flavoring in coffee introduced in the fall. Since then, pumpkin related products began to rise and hit an ultimate increase in the years 2012 and 2013. For Starbucks in particular, in 2014 they sold more than 200 million drinks. Over the course of 15 years, Starbucks has made $1.3-$1.4 billion in sales from pumpkin spice sales. So, imagine all the corporations and businesses who produce seasonal pumpkin related products and all of the profit they have made. Even though I personally did not enjoy my pumpkin spice drink, this sector for business is genius. No one could have ever predicted that pumpkin spice would take off as quickly as it did. The fact that the Pumpkin Spice Latte has its own verified Twitter account speaks volumes on its own.
Pumpkin spice is not just a fad, it’s a lifestyle. Many people commit and genuinely look forward to pumpkin spice each fall. During my research, I found some very interesting statistics regarding the purchasers of specifically Pumpkin Spice Lattes. According to an American market research organization, NDP, here are a list of statistics:
-Tended to be higher income: About 60 percent of PSL buyers had a household income of $75,000 or more.
– Skewed slightly female: About 53 percent of PSL buyers were female.
– Leaned toward no children in the home: About 60 percent of PSL buyers did not have children 18 and younger in the household.
– Tended to be younger: About 55 percent of PSL buyers were younger than 45.
-nrn.com, NDP (sources will be linked below)
I found that the data could be caused by many factors and it makes me wonder whether if it is correlation or causation. For example, the income is said to be higher, however, you must consider the locations of Starbucks. They tend to be in higher income suburban areas, so it would make sense that PSL buyers would make a substantial amount of income. But once again, is it correlation or causation?
This pumpkin spice journey has been fun, mostly. Even though I disagree with majority of the world about the “hype’ of pumpkin spice, it was interesting to look at data and the beginning to a long legacy of pumpkin spice.
In the end, pumpkin spice is indeed an acquired taste. Also, I would like to leave you all with one last piece of information. Most pumpkin spice drinks does not have actual pumpkin in it…..
30, R. (2018, August 30). Pumpkin spice latte season drives sales, frequency. Retrieved September 21, 2020, from https://www.nrn.com/consumer-trends/pumpkin-spice-latte-season-drives-sa…
CBS Sacramento. (2015, September 14). Who Started The Pumpkin Spice-Flavored Food Craze? Retrieved September 21, 2020, from https://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2015/09/14/the-history-of-pumpkin-spice/
McGrath, M. (2018, November 01). Inside The $600 Million Pumpkin Spice Industrial Complex. Retrieved September 21, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/2018/10/31/inside-the-600-mil…
Orenstein, J. (2019, April 29). The origins of pumpkin spice and how it became the flavor of fall. Retrieved September 21, 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/09/15/love-it-or-hate-i…
Suzannah Showler Updated August 27, 2. (2020, August 28). The Curious History Of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte. Retrieved September 21, 2020, from https://www.chatelaine.com/food/trends/starbucks-pumpkin-spice-latte-his…