Fall Food Marketing Campaigns: From Pumpkin Spiced Lattes to Black Whoppers

For many marketers, the fall indicates the kick-off to seasonal food offerings. From pumpkin spiced products to black Halloween burgers to Oktoberfest, marketers see fall as an opportunity to increase sales with seasonal product offerings. One of the most popular foods during the fall is pumpkin. In the past several years, American consumers have taken pumpkin offerings to a new level. Now consumers can find more than just pumpkin spiced lattes. Companies have produced products such as pumpkin Oreos, pumpkin spiced liqueurs, pumpkin spiced hamburgers, and even pumpkin spice dog treats. Based on an article from Washington Post, sales of pumpkin spice products have grown 79 percent from 2011 and generated over $361 million just last year.

A to-go coffee cup from Starbucks with a PSL knit sleeve, a pair of orange sunglasses, and a small plastic pumpkin.
Starbucks, as part of its fall marketing campaign, has launched a Pumpkin Spice Latte orange sleeve society. Source: Forbes.

One of the most popular seasonal beverages introduced during the fall is Starbuck’s PSL (pumpkin spiced latte). Starbucks, who introduced the PSL in 2003, has sold more than 200 million PSL lattes equating to over $80 million in annual revenue. Starbucks has built a social media and marketing campaign around the drink, which this year began September 8th, the earliest it has ever been advertised. Additionally, as part of the marketing campaign this year, Starbucks invited consumers to join the Orange Sleeve Society. Members of the Orange Sleeve Society receive a knit cozy sleeve in bright orange with “Team PSL” written on it. Starbucks added this society to its PSL marketing campaign to target teenagers, aged 13 to 18.

Burger King, in the spirit of Halloween, has released a black Whopper, in which the hamburger buns are made black using high-fructose corn syrup. The burger, originally marketed throughout Japan, gained popularity through social media. Burger King released the black Whoppers originally in Japan due to the lack of a large advertising budget and the intense rivalry from McDonalds. In Japan, there are only 93 Burger King locations compared to McDonald’s 3,000 locations. The company’s strategy has been successful, as now every major media organization, such as The Wall Street Journal, Time, and Forbes, has written stores about Burger King’s black burgers in addition to hundreds of photos being posted online by consumers. See Burger King’s Halloween Whopper TV commercial below.

Oktoberfest, originating in Germany, has led brewers to offer consumers seasonal beers. Fall beers are the most popular seasonal style and Samuel Adams has capitalized on this opportunity. Samuel Adams Octoberfest beer is so popular that Samuel Adams has expanded the sales window for the seasonal beer. Additionally, Sierra Nevada, a California based beer company, has launched a new Oktoberfest beer that was created in collaboration with a German brewing partner. Sierra Nevada, in order to capture more of the Octoberfest beer market launched their seasonal beer in August.

Marketing and advertising campaigns for Fall products have consistently expanded their window of sales as the popularity for certain seasonal products increases. For marketers, offering seasonal products has many advantages. People not only tend to purchase more products during limited seasonal offerings but also are willing to pay more. Furthermore, marketers do not have to create new or never before used methods to create interest in seasonal products because consumers want to purchase based on limited availability or specialty.

From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to consider:

  • What are some advantages to marketers for offering consumers seasonal products?
  • Do you think consumers are willing to pay more for products that are offered for a limited time?
  • Research some other seasonality marketing techniques.