Autumn is upon us, and you know what that means.
‘Tis the season for decorative gourds and Pumpkin Spice Mania! You’ve probably noticed the onslaught of cinnamon and nutmeg flavored products at your favorite retailers. Everything from coffee creamer to beer and potato chips offer seasonal flavorings nowadays. While some reports say Pumpkin Spice preference is on the decline from years past, you can count on an effort at gaining market share with seasonal flair, especially through the holiday season. After all, these tasty treats have been boosting sales for years. Marketers swear by the consumer instinct to get now what you cannot get year round. Limited time offers and seasonal flavors are a tried and true marketing match made in heaven. In some cases, within the beverage category, increasing average checks for franchisees by almost a dollar.
Dunkin Donuts introduced a Pumpkin Machiatto product last year, hoping to capitalize on the trend set by the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. Panera has added a Pumpkin Pie Bagel to their offerings and a “clean” version of the popular Pumpkin Spice Latte with less additives or artificial flavors. Apples, cinnamon and even bourbon are some of the autumn flavors that will gain recognition on restaurant dessert menus everywhere this time of year.
But Fall flavors are only the beginning.
Just when consumers hit their pumpkin plateau and cannot withstand the spice mania any longer – peppermint panic will set in! Around mid-November, just before Thanksgiving, we will see the introduction of peppermint flavored coffees and desserts at every turn. Peppermint flavored milkshakes at Sonic, Burger King and Arby’s are said to increase ticket sales yearly. And the McCafe Peppermint Mocha at McDonald’s is a seasonal drive thru staple for many consumers. Dairy Queen’s Candy Cane Chill Blizzard is the stuff of legends, even garnering positive reviews on food blogs (manreviewsfood.com, sogoodblog.com).
One interesting emergence is the way social media has popularized seasonality in food trends even more! Being a part of something makes purchasing a seasonal flavored item a social experience, Instagrammed and Tweeted for posterity. Smart marketing execs count on their products to trend in social media for valuable consumer impressions, adding a fresh layer of fun to the marketing calendar.
Love them or don’t love them — seasonal flavors are here to stay in the food industry and we have just the right point of purchase materials to promote them. Register toppers, window clings and more. Contact me for ideas at lpilcher@BrandPOP.com
Restaurant Business, Sept 2015
Fortune, August 2015
QSR, Sept 2015