Where Pumpkin Spice Went Wrong

The pumpkin spice phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down. Released upon an unsuspecting public in 2003 by coffee mega chain Starbucks, the company claims to have sold more than 200 million serves of the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Companies were quick to observe the success of the seasonally savvy flavor and jumped on board. There are many articles online that list out increasingly ridiculous places to find pumpkin spice flavor (salmon, salsa, and kitty litter are our top three).

So what can your brand learn from the pumpkin spice bonanza? It’s clear that the market is flooded and instead of being celebrated, pumpkin spice is ridiculed. Public perception has shifted and it’s largely due to over saturation of the market.

Here’s some things you should consider before jumping on board with a trend.

Does the trend match your brand?

It can be difficult to navigate the fine line between taking advantage of a trend and overreaching. First consider – is your brand naturally aligned with the trend? Is it a comfortable fit, or does it feel clunky and awkward? You may damage your branding if you try to associate with a bad fit, no matter how popular.

Do you risk providing an inauthentic offering?

A lot of the chatter around pumpkin spice is often, products deploying the flavor lack any trace of pumpkin, and are more likely to be concoctions of chemicals and high fructose corn syrup. The lesson here is to stay authentic and provide good quality products. Claiming association with a trend but failing to deliver reflects poorly on the brand.

Trends quickly become irrelevant

Trends are transient by nature. The magic of pumpkin spice is that it is seasonal, so the market has time to rest between fall releases (although Starbucks seems intent on releasing it earlier and earlier each year). If you consider investing in a trend based product line, be aware that the trend will pass. If you cannot offload your product while it is in demand, you may be left with unsellable stock.

Brand dilution is a risk

There is something to be said about standing against the tide. If a market is flooding with a particular trend, if can sometimes be smart to deliberately not participate. Your brand can become a refuge for those who don’t like the trend, for one. It also reinforces a premium reputation for your brand – it appears that you have no need to rely on cheap trends when your product line speaks for itself. Your brand’s unique offerings can stand out amongst a tide of orange colored marketing.

Pumpkin spice is loved by many, it’s true. However, the way it has exploded throughout the market place provides an excellent case study for those who are interested in strengthening the unique selling proposition of their brand. Don’t risk losing your core message in the hype.

If you’d like guidance on how to manage and present your brand or maintain your companies core values, chat to our experienced branding team at Visual Caffeine.

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