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Written by Ivania Garcia

The Pumpkin Spice Latte is more than just a seasonal fad, it’s become an iconic drink that most can only receive during the fall season. The marketing strategy used to promote this drink has been widely successful and Starbucks benefits from it every year. Since its first debut in 2003, major companies have created their own copies of this popular drink such as McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts. Many more have even gone as far as creating pumpkin spice cookie dough, ice cream, cereal, candy and even skin care products.

Here are some marketing tips you can learn from the #PSL phenomenon:

Know Your Target Market

Who goes crazy over a pumpkin flavored latte? Millennials! Starbucks has used social media to connect with its followers by creating a popular #PSL hashtag and even creating a Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr just for the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Starbucks has made it a priority to engage with fans online and publicly announce the return of #PSL. On September 1st, Starbucks began their campaign by doing a Facebook livestream to announce the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte by creating a “pumpkin hatch” of #PSL.

Here are some simple ways for you to figure out who your audience is:

  • Look at your current customer base. Why do they buy from you? What are their characteristics and interests?
  • Consider psychographics- personality, attitudes, values, lifestyles, behavior etc.
  • Choose specific demographics- age, location, gender, income level, education level, occupation etc.
  • Check out your competition. Who are they targeting and are they overlooking a niche market?

Exclusive Seasonal Offer

Starbucks has mastered in offering the Pumpkin Spice Latte only in the fall creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity you can only get at a Starbucks location.

Smaller businesses should consider offering special deals and products on a seasonal basis. You can create your own sense of urgency by offering sale deals online or in person. For example, you can offer holiday deals during November and December or offer special deals during times of the year where business might usually be slow.

Listen to Negative and Positive Feedback

The PSL has received positive feedback from customers and other coffee fans but the Pumpkin Spice Latte hasn’t always been this popular. In 2014, Starbucks received harsh criticism from coffee lovers for falsely advertising that real pumpkin was being used to make the lattes when that was not the case. Since then, Starbucks has modified the recipe to include real pumpkin.

What can you learn from this? Listen to your customers. You should cater to your clientele and hear what they have to say. By not reaching out when an issue occurs and not responding in a timely manner can result in major backlash. Having good customer service creates a trust between you and your customers.

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