Starbucks continues pumpkin spice latte personification with separate Messenger bot

Starbucks is cementing the pumpkin spice latte?s status as a beloved beverage and social media caricature by rolling out a separate PSL Facebook Messenger chatbot, which enables users to interact with the drink by taking a quiz and discussing fall-themed topics.

Starbucks alerted fans to the new Messenger chatbot by posting a Snapchat Story containing an image of the pumpkin spice latte caricature peeking out from behind a door alongside a screenshot of a URL link. The URL link, which was later posted on The Real PSL?s official Instagram account, brought users directly to the Facebook Messenger bot, showcasing one effective way of how marketers can ramp up awareness for seasonal products.

?As temperatures drop, a plethora of pumpkin spice products will be flooding the market,? said Laura Sossong, manager at Boston Retail Partners. ?The PSL Messenger bot will help Starbucks stay top-of-mind for consumers craving this festive fall flavor.?

Swirling up anticipation
Starbucks is capitalizing on the growing anticipation for fall-themed beverages and treats by introducing a new Facebook Messenger bot for its pumpkin spice latte, which it has dubbed The Real PSL. The caricature of the latte, which typically wears bright-colored sunglasses, also has its own social media accounts.

Last fall, Starbucks, which put the focus on SMS for its seasonal promotions in the past, made a big push on social media by engaging in a marketing blitz for the return of its pumpkin spice latte, making official accounts for the drink on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr (see story).

On Monday afternoon, the beverage chain posted a Snapchat Story featuring a mystery URL link against a black screen. That screenshot was followed by an image of the pumpkin spice latte peering around a door.

The URL, m.me/therealpsl, brought individuals directly to the Messenger bot. Consumers can also access the bot by visiting any of The Real PSL?s social media accounts and clicking the link in their bios.

Once the bot pops up on users? smartphones, it will inform them that The Real PSL will gain access to all public information. If consumers consent to this, they can tap on the Get Started button.

This will enable each user to kick off the chatting session by posing a question, or waiting for the bot to start the conversation. The Real PSL will also invite consumers to take a quiz that tests his or her knowledge about the popular fall-themed beverage.

If users opt to take the quiz, the bot will ask questions such as, ?What was I for last Halloween?? and ?What?s my cat/publicist/manager?s name??

Each question offers three multiple-choice answers, on which players can tap. The quiz contains 14 questions.

The bot will continue the conversation indefinitely, until users leave the messaging thread.

Betting on bots
Starbucks? strategy of rolling out a separate Messenger bot for its pumpkin spice latte will likely resonate positively with its fan base, especially as consumers ready themselves for the start of fall.

The brand?s pumpkin-flavored latte has amassed a significant following, making it the ideal choice for standalone social media accounts and marketing campaigns. 

Additionally, many of the drink?s core fans are mobile-savvy millennials who will appreciate the novelty of chatting directly with the caricature of their favorite latte.

Starbucks is not the only marketer that has cultivated two-way conversations with consumers through Facebook Messenger chatbots.

The Huffington Post?s entertainment division recently fostered a dialogue with readers regarding what to watch on Netflix through a chatbot that provided recommendations on Facebook Messenger (see story).

Additionally, Ferrara Candy Company?s Trolli brand translated its brand quirkiness for a chatbot on Facebook Messenger that offered a range of activities in chat form, including giveaways and several surprises meant to appeal to young users (see story).

?Bots provide a fun, easy way for consumers to interact and share with their social connections,? Ms. Sossong said. ?Given the low expense and ease involved in implementing Messenger bots, spreading brand awareness using this Facebook functionality is a no-brainer.?