Fall flavors are coming sooner than later this year with Starbucks having launched their famous pumpkin spice latte on Tuesday, which is the earliest the beverage has returned to stores. However, they are not the only food company cashing in on this $500 million dollar craze earlier than expected – and for good reason. In fact, Neilson data claims that sales of pumpkin spice flavored CPG products reached $5.6 million between August 12 and 18.
Considering the fact that the famous flavor brought in $488.7 million in sales just in the past year alone – a 16 percent increase from the previous year – it looks like this trend is here to stay. So, it’s no surprise that “pumpkin spice” is proudly plastered on 446 food products in the grocery space. About 155 of these products have seasonal or limited edition claims, making them potentially even more tempting to consumers.
Popular pumpkin-flavored products include cereals, of which there are currently 15 different pumpkin-flavored cereals available, such as Kellogg’s limited edition pumpkin-spice Frosted Flakes. However, food companies are stepping out of the box this year with unique takes on the seasonal sensation.
Muuna, a cottage cheese company, is introducing a limited edition pumpkin spice cottage cheese product with 17 grams of protein. Kellogg Co. is launching a seasonal pumpkin-spice Bear Naked granola product with white chocolate, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon and nutmeg. Dave’s Killer Bread will be launching limited edition pumpkin spice bagels that are made from organic pumpkins and a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and they feature maple and marshmallow flavored bits. Even Kellogg’s recently acquired protein bar brand, RX Bar, features a pumpkin spice flavor. The limited edition pumpkin spice flavored product list goes on to include brands such as Halo Top ice cream, Captain Morgan Rum, Godiva chocolate and Noosa Mates yogurt.
However, we shouldn’t give all the credit to this particular flavor as there are many popular seasonal flavors out there. What makes this seasonal trend such a big hit is its time-sensitivity. In fact, the fear of missing out ̶ also known as FOMO ̶ has been noted to be a real phenomenon in the consumer space. When there is a time limit placed on a product, in the form of “seasonal” or “limited-edition” offerings, consumers are influenced to make purchases faster and more frequently. In fact, a study by DigitalCommons at the University of Nebraska found that consumers were more likely to purchase products that had limited quantities or limited time for purchase.
This trend can be noted by examining seasonal flavor trends in general. Pumpkin spice, maple cream and apple pie are the top fall flavors to watch out for, according to FONA International. As winter approaches, grocery stores will start to introduce a variety of holiday-themed products with flavors such as peppermint pretzel, coconut macaroon, s’mores and pomegranate. During spring and summer seasons food companies tend to come out with fruity flavored products.
It seems that most consumers are persuaded with time sensitivity, which explains why pumpkin spice keeps making a comeback in the food industry.