Pumpkin Spice—Trick or Treat?

Smell that? The scent of fall incarnate, the fragrance that encapsulates clear blue sky against trees masquerading as fireworks. This, the playful aroma of wondrous family memories, spooky decorations and tricks or treats is none other than the pumpkin spice latte (or however you drink your pumpkin spice).

This drink has become the gateway beverage to modern autumn mentality in the good ol’ USA. Slow sipping this lava-hot nectar allows us to properly take in the soft orange glow of gutted fruit on fire, the sound of leaves crunching underfoot and the itchy warmth of those ever-thicker sweaters. But do you even like Pumpkin Spice?

Chances are, that you do, or at least, think you do; you may even be in line for one right now. There is something automatic about the effects of fall for many of us, as we retreat at the onset of coming darkness. We begin to nestle ourselves and families down for the coming winter as the hearth and home feelings settle in.

In that sense, not much has changed since the harvest festivities of old, so perhaps the spice is merely a remnant of the ages and somewhat ingrained in our psyche from those that came before us. It would be easy to convince the masses that this beverage has magical properties of comfort and fantastic ideals, with enough social media coverage, wouldn’t it?

Let’s consider that the mentality already exists for many of us, to find some comfort and security before the long cold winter decides to humble us for six months. Let’s surmise that many people want to have a meaningful connection to what they consider their social group, even if they don’t understand why.

Fall appeals to many with its own inclusive marketing plan. For those who crave company and camaraderie, it has an endless supply of pies, ciders and gatherings, while the growing counterculture can feast on the paranormal, the spooky and the fearsome. I’m sure all camps would agree on at least one thing, the lure of pumpkin spice.

What are some of the quiet marketing techniques that we can learn from our beautiful fall, Halloween or Samhain (as the Celts called it) season and its signature beverage: The Pumpkin Spice Latte?

For starters, both the season and beverage are around for a limited time only. This creates an urgency to soak it all in before it’s gone. For a good or delicious product, scarcity + desire, simply drives up sales.

The season has been glorified by many of the people we looked up to in our youth (they call them influencers these days). Our influencers were the parents of post-World War 2 America, who were just beginning to have the slightest of means to celebrate in ways previously not possible—simple pleasures like purchasing light-up plastic decorations or window decals and throwing Halloween parties. Now, we have influencers that are “believable”, simply because they have the most followers on YouTube.

Regarding post war parenting, these moments of brightness left an indelible impression on many a psyche, creating something simple to live up to—an ideal that was attainable at least once a year. We crave these moments in life and, naturally, keep coming back for more. You may never have purchased pumpkin spice anything before; but once you can associate it with a good feeling and a new tradition, you’re hooked baby—sometimes without even trying it.

After the influencers convey the message, whether intended or not, we as humans attach meaning. When meaning connects to a product (or season) that matches personal ideals or beliefs, you have the potential for great success. Companies like Apple never targeted the masses trying to push a product, they were pushing a belief that resonated with a LOT of people; and we all know how that worked out for them.

I realize, there is only the ghost of a chance that you’ve had enough time to read this far, so I’ll try not to squash this blog with more (candy) corny, sugar coated sentiment; so, let’s just pull the mask off and find out if we have a trick or a treat… or perhaps a little of both?

Before the deliciousness of pumpkin spiced anything hit your cadaverous palate, there was a good chance that you were already in love with it. This is due to faith in influencers, the limited time of the product, and the meaning/belief connected with the product. The ethic and tone were created long before the drink, and the connection to common beliefs made it quite a palatable and profitable tradition that I’m sure will be passed down to future generations.

The copious amounts of sugar might have something to do with it, too. Happy fall everyone!

P.S. I love you. (that’s Pumpkin Spice, just so you know).

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