The Origin Of The Pumpkin Spice Latte

How did Starbucks initially market the pumpkin spice latte? originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question.

Answer by Paul Williams, former Starbucks partner in branding and marketing, founder of Idea Sandbox, on Quora.

The pumpkin spice latte was originally featured in in-store signage (the banner, posters, counter card), it was sampled in-store at the point-of-sale (as well as walked around the cafe on a tray by a barista).

The fact it was a limited time flavor made it more attractive to customers, kept it special. This is the same we found with eggnog latte, gingerbread latte, peppermint mocha for the holiday season.

The pumpkin spice latte was launched at Starbucks in 2003. It was rolled out as part of the fall promotional campaign which runs from the beginning of September until mid-November (when the Holiday promotion begins).

We had a lot of success with Holiday seasonal beverages - peppermint latte, gingerbread latte - the decision was made to figure out what espresso based beverage could be featured in the Fall time period. They tried different flavors... I remember white chocolate mocha was the featured flavor in 2001.

Pumpkin spice made sense as a flavor because it is a flavor of the autumn season. The year before pumpkin spice latte launched, the promotion during the fall was for Tazo Chai Latte (not that far a stretch from chai spice to a pumpkin flavor).

While every product manager wants their creation to be popular, no one anticipated how popular the drink would be. It is tasty, sweet, and - I think - has helped contribute to the pumpkin-flavored-everything we see during September / October / November in the US.

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