On the off chance you’ve had your head in the sand and are just coming up for air, it’s pumpkin season. No, not the season where you pick pumpkins and carve them to represent scary creatures and not the season where pumpkins are part of a cornucopia of gourds for which we give thanks. I’m talking about the season of pumpkin spice.
Fishbowl’s Analytics team has been monitoring pumpkin related trends in social media. The leaders, as you might guess – coffee shops. Starbucks, Peets Coffee, and Coffee Bean lead the “pumpkin” mentions across all autumn months, with Starbucks continuing to be at the top. And they continue to capitalize on this each fall.
Recently, fall has crept into summer and pumpkin spiced sustenance has expanded well beyond coffee. Now, adding “pumpkin infused” to almost anything starts right before Labor Day and goes through early to mid-November. This trend has been growing year over year for some time. But has it reached a turning point? According to Nielsen, dollar sales of pumpkin spiced food and beverage reached an all-time high last year at $414M, but unit sales actually fell. And at projected growth of 6% in 2017, pumpkin spiced food and beverage growth is down from 10% in 2016 and 20% in 2013.
Fishbowl set out to do its own informal study about this trend. Will growth rates continue to slip? Will interest eventually wane? An informal Twitter poll to Fishbowl followers would indicate maybe – 22% responded “I can’t get enough” while 78% responded, “I’ve had enough.”
If you ask our Fishbowl clients, it would appear that interest is still very strong. Corner Bakery has gone all out and is featuring four new dishes that were not on the menu last year: Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal, Pumpkin Spice Pancakes, Pumpkin Spice Baby Bundt Cake AND Pumpkin Spice Latte. They’re promoting these to their customers via targeted promotions. Denny’s has expanded their menu beyond Pumpkin Pie this fall to also include Pumpkin Cream Pancakes. If a pumpkin spice latte/pancake/cake doesn’t quite fit your post-summer-slimdown, Jamba Juice is pushing a healthy option and using email to promote $3 off your first purchase of their Pumpkin Protein Smoothie.
We may not know if the pumpkin trend will continue its still strong growth rate in 2018. But while I still have the chance, I think I’ll order this fall flavor the next time I dine out.
This blog was written by Fishbowl’s Marketing Director, Heather Lawrence.