- Starbucks kicked off its advertising around its pumpkin spice offerings in late August, making it the first brand to jump in on the fall flavor trend, according to new research from Numerator that was shared with Marketing Dive. As of Oct. 1, Starbucks was the biggest spender on pumpkin spice-themed ads so far this year.
- In a shift, Starbucks' pumpkin spice-themed advertising included print ads, which weren't included last year. Ads appeared in magazines such as Food Network, Parents and People.
- More advertisers have added social media to the mix this year for their pumpkin spice campaigns, with 71% going this route, up from 64% last year.
Starbucks remains the dominant purveyor of pumpkin spiced drinks, according to Numerator's numbers, and got a jump start on the season with its earliest launch yet for themed offerings. With only 28.7% of consumers surveyed having purchased a pumpkin spice product from another company, Starbucks is clearly banking on advertising to help it expand its offerings with Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew and protect its leading role as competition heats up. Numerous marketers are looking to get in on this seasonal trend this year, with brands like Burt’s Bees, Spam and Tim Hortons having had a message with a pumpkin product.
The larger advertising push from Starbucks this year could help the brand connect in particular with millennials, a key audience for coffee brands in general and one that over-indexes on pumpkin spice lattes, per Numerator.
Twenty percent of Starbucks customers are aware of seasonal drinks such as Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and 90% of those consumers recognize the "pumpkin spice" name in some variation, according to the research. Among the 1,000 people surveyed, 84.6% had purchased at least one seasonal drink from Starbucks in the last year. Pumpkin Spice Latte is the most popular of these seasonal drinks with 50.4% of these consumers choosing the iconic drink. Another 17.8% had ordered the new 2019 Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew. About half of those consumers surveyed said they had already purchased at least one seasonal drink this season, and some 37.2% plan to order one of the next couple of months.
Ad spend for pumpkin spice hit more than $4.2 million last year, a majority of which was spent by Nestle on TV ads for Coffee-Mate as the competitor looks to capitalize on the popularity of the flavor for the home market. The brand has yet to release a similar campaign yet, but could do so sometime in October — which is when it launched ads last year — suggesting pumpkin spice ad spend it likely to continue to ramp up.