Seasonal Marketing: Five Brands Attracting with Pumpkin Power in Fall 2013

Never fear, fall is here! Businesses whose sales are predominantly reliant on the delight of taste and/or smell revel in the coming of the autumn season. (Baked goods, beverage, candle, bath and body industries – I’m talking to you.)

It’s true that these particular businesses thrive on the reminiscent scents and flavors of many a season, but none – and I mean none – are more impactful than those derived from the iconic fall fruit (yes, it is a fruit): the pumpkin.

While some may think it strange that the orange squash is the MVP of the fall-flavor roster, as a large advocate of the beloved “pumpkin spice” flavor and scent myself, this comes as no surprise to me. For years businesses have rushed to the marketing dessert table to grab a slice of the profitable pumpkin pie; 2013 proves no different (and I’m not complaining).

Here are how five brands have made themselves attractive to consumers like me with supreme pumpkin power this fall, as well as my own personal experience enjoying the pumpkin “fruits” of each brand’s labor.

Dunkin’ Donuts

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How they attracted us:

Over the years, Dunkin’ Donuts has made a name for themselves with their festive flavors, especially in the fall. Out of all the brands I follow, Dunkin’ is very near, if not stealing the top spot for most pumpkin items in their inventory. The festive fall menu includes new items such as the Pumpkin Pie Donut, the Frozen Pumpkin Coffee Coolatta, Pumpkin White Chocolate, Pumpkin Muffin, Pumpkin Glazed Munchkins®, and a slew of other coffee items (brewed and packaged) and lattes. This is great for us pumpkin enthusiasts – everyone knows variety is the pumpkin spice of life. Dunkin is killin’ it this fall with media designs promoting their proprietary pumpkin products and some social-media interaction really making their pumpkin-pushing efforts known.

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My experience:

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I’ve been known to love a good cup of flavored coffee. Dunkin’s pumpkin-flavored coffee is somewhat heavenly (be aware that milk and sugar is included in this shot), but this time I thought I might opt to try something from the baked goods side of the DD artillery. I wasn’t disappointed. While I chose to venture through the drive-thru late at night, these pumpkin munchkins were perfect. They were moist and just sugary enough to stop me from seeing orange. The best part about perusing the late night drive-thru: Ordering two munchkins and getting about a dozen. #pumpkwinning

Southern Tier Brewing Company

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How they attracted us:

In the beer world, fall is arguably the best season to be a beer drinker. Pumpkin beers begin to fill the shelves as a slew of brave brands attempt to captivate tasters with a new spin on the flavored beverage. Among the many successes and failures available lies the largely popular autumnal favorite – Pumking by the Southern Tier Brewing Company based in Lakewood, NY. STBC’s look is modern, colorful, attractive, and edgy; it’s hard to pass by the collection without giving it a second look. They have a handle on this whole design thing, especially with the menacing Pumking and its dark kin, Warlock (check out my coworker and fellow beer enthusiast, Pat DePuy’s blog on other drool-worthy pumpkin beer designs). With the significant numbers of Pumking followers, it was smart to implant curiosity by introducing the “dark magic” of the Warlock stout, Pumking’s counterpoint.

By boasting the pumpkin varieties on Facebook, exhibiting a beer locator on their website and holding off-site tastings (including a Pumpkin Palooza), it’s safe to say STBC’s seasonal efforts are faring them well.

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My experience:

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As a longtime craft beer enthusiast, I, like many, anxiously await the first batch of the delicious Pumking – the king of all pumpkin craft brews. When I say Southern Tier does fall right, I mean it. This beer tastes like liquid pumpkin pie, whipped topping and all. And while darker in color, Warlock has a similar flavor. This stout isn’t quite as sweet, bearing that pumpkin pie taste and a pleasant coffee finish. I’ve definitely fallen victim to its “dark magic”.

Bath & Body Works

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How they attracted us: 

In the brand competition to create pleasing, fragrant soaps, lotions, and the like, Bath & Body Works has a comfortable lead and they’re not shy about it. Last month, their Facebook header image had their vast collection pumpkin-scented items posing together for a country-themed fragrance family portrait. The image also proudly displayed a large blue ribbon alerting fans that these are the world’s best pumpkin fragrances – a bold, yet respectfully confident statement by Bath & Body Works. The ribbon comes from the imaginative and interactive event they called the Bath & Body Works County Fair (#BBWCountyFair). I think Bath & Body Works is a top candidate for the blue ribbon for “Best Pumpkin-Powered Marketing Campaign in 2013.”

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My experience:

I honestly don’t think my hands have ever gotten so much attention. I’ve simply “fall”en in love with the Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin Hand Sanitizer. Use it, and you will smell simply scrumptious all day long. It quickly became a part of my morning routine and I have yet to look back. The Creamy Pumpkin Hand Soap is equally as mouthwatering. The name is fitting as it has a wonderful spiced pumpkin smell wrapped in a sweet cream scent. Heaven.

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Starbucks

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How they attracted us:

The Starbucks pumpkin spice latte now has an acronym-turned-trending hashtag: #PSL. I mean, you know you’ve made a product work when it has its own popular hashtag as well as a fan Facebook page. This year marked the drink’s 10-year anniversary, in which diehard fans could even purchase the beverage before its debut on September 3rd this year, by mentioning the secret code “PSL10” to their local barista. Seriously? This drink has reached such a level of popularity that it has a secret code to taste it early. Other marketing tactics to keep this beverage relevant included Starbucks changing their Facebook header image on September 4th to fans showing off their first #PSL of the season, even using the hashtag #pslselfies; a hilarious PSL 10th Anniversary video (below: it’s worth the 16 seconds), and additional pages on the website pushing their trio of pumpkin-flavored baked goods.

My experience:

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My first encounter with the famous Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (nonfat, no whip) was a hit. I had a coworker snag me one on our lunch break (thank you, Justin) and it was just the delicious pumpkin pick-me-up I was craving (which became apparent to those around me after the “mmm” proceeding each sip). It had just the right amount of pumpkin flavor and a delightful, light creaminess. I have officially joined the cult of #PSL activists, and plan to become a word-of-mouth asset to their marketing efforts. #TeamPSL4L

Perry’s Ice Cream

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How they attracted us:

When it comes to flavor themes such as pumpkin spice or pumpkin pie, there’s a lot of pressure on top ice cream brands to get them right and get the inspired flavor talked about. There are a few top brands that come to mind when deciding where to search for a specific flavor, such as the ever-innovative Ben and Jerry’s, but be it known that Perry’s is definitely making moves when it comes to flavor creativity. Offering a selection of limited edition flavors such as Pumpkin Pie and their 95th Anniversary Sponge Candy, they subsequently blast the news to their Facebook fans to get the word out.

My experience:

Perry’s pumpkin pie ice cream was made easy to find on the website with their Where to Buy page as so many brands are now conveniently providing. I brought a pint of the ice cream into the office to share, based solely on the fear that I might love it so much I would finish the entire gallon; it was the smartest thing I did all week. The swirls of whipped cream within the surprisingly natural-tasting pumpkin ice cream provided a cool, sweet, and creamy flavor explosion. As if that wasn’t enough, the crunch of the “pie crust” graham pieces solidified my love affair with this sinfully delicious treat.

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After a variety of classic interpretations and innovative spins on pumpkin flavors and scents (and many calories later), I’m still not pumpkin’d out. The above were just a handful of brands that have successfully made themselves attractive to me as a marketer and consumer, and thus sold me with their fall seasonal marketing (and pumpkin power).

What are some of your favorite fall seasonal marketing campaigns for 2013? Let us know in the comments!

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