PSL: Pumpkin Sales Lift?

The leaves are starting to turn and football season is well underway which can only mean one thing:  #PSL season is upon. PSL, an acronym for those in the know for Pumpkin Spice Latte has become synonymous with fall. If the one million (and counting!) Instagram posts tagged with #PSL haven’t convinced you of the power of pumpkin, perhaps these data points will convince you to give this seasonal flavor a chance in your restaurant.

The Original: How Starbucks Created the Category

Introduced in 2003, the Pumpkin Spice Latte is Starbucks’ most popular seasonal beverage – according to reporting done by Nation’s Restaurant News.  The same article describes a study done by NPD Checkout, a market research firm, that said PSL buyers visited their PSL establishment of choice twice as many times as non-PSL drinkers and spent an average of $3 more per visit.  More visits at a higher AOV? That’s the gourd stuff!

Pumpkin Spice… Everything

Pumpkin isn’t just for pies and lattes anymore; an increasing number of products now come in a pumpkin varietal.  From the obvious (bread mix, ice cream (this blogger’s favorite!)) to the less-obvious (there’s a $42m industry around pumpkin-flavored dog food!), almost every available consumable can be found in a pumpkin varietal.  The key to introducing fall-flavored offerings is to make them available for a limited time and to market that limited availability. Scarcity and exclusivity drive consumers in-store.

Pumpkin Spice Backlash?

One study, conducted by Mintel, predicts that growth of pumpkin items will slow in 2018 for the first time since the craze hit the market.  This stagnation will make room for the emergence of other fall flavors – caramel, maple, pecan. This time of year leads people towards a desire for “cozy”; these flavors with just a bit of decadence to them will fulfill that want.

So, what does this mean for you?  Trends indicate that seasonal items will give your business a boost.  Remember to market their availability and clearly communicate that limited timeframe.  Look beyond pumpkin to other seasonal flavors as consumers may be facing a bit of pumpkin fatigue – better yet, offer both a pumpkin classic and a newer option to capture both sides of the market.  And, have fun with your seasonal menu items – and your customers.

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