The Pumpkin Spice Phenomenon: How Companies Use Pumpkin Spice as a PR Tactic

You’re stepping into a grocery store in mid-August, and what do you see marketed right in front of you? Pumpkin spice everything, and I mean everything. This intriguing flavor can range from cakes, cookies, and ice cream to chips, cheese, to even pumpkin spice ramen! So what causes this phenomenon, and how do companies use this PR tactic to contribute to their company?

Let’s start off by finding out why the flavor pumpkin spice is so popular. For many, the fall season tugs on the nostalgia heartstrings. The crisp air, the falling leaves, the trick-or-treating, the carving of pumpkins, it’s a season everyone adores. So what can make this season even more lovable? The limited-time-only pumpkin spice! With this seasonal flavor taking over grocery stores, more companies are creating these products to increase sales due to popularity. During the fall season, which some consider beginning in August, companies use various PR tactics to engage with their consumers and let them know they are also hopping on the pumpkin spice boat.

These PR tactics include changing the color schemes of the company to coordinate with more autumn colors, producing products that contain pumpkin spice flavor or scent, and posting on their social media about their new fall products. Some pumpkin spice scents and flavors are common and reasonable, such as a pumpkin spice cake or pumpkin spice coffee. However, when it comes to traditionally savory products getting the pumpkin spice touch, it starts to become bizarre.

An example of a popular brand advancing from this tactic is Starbucks. They started developing their pumpkin spice flavor back in 2003. It’s safe to say that their company basically started the pumpkin spice latte revolution. Now Starbucks sells pumpkin spice lattes, frappuccinos, cold foam, muffins, and scones. Not to mention, you can add a little hint of nostalgia to pretty much any Starbucks drink for .30 to .50 cents, depending on the location.

The fall season offers various ways for companies to connect with their consumer on a personal level. Companies utilizing the pumpkin spice phenomenon can create a sense of relatability and trust between the consumer and the company. Now in mid-October, shelves are filled to the brim with pumpkin spice everything.

Julia Hinfey, Account Associate


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