First Signs of Fall

The introduction of pumpkin spice-influenced products in restaurant chains, consumer packaged goods, and pop culture—a signal that summer is turning to autumn—begins earlier every year, with sightings as soon as mid-August. Naturally, licensed products and collaborations are in the mix.

Some of the strategies for pumpkin spice-related initiatives include:

  • Focusing on flavor. McDonald’s and Kraft Heinz’s McCafé-branded line of coffee for Keurig K-Cups features a pumpkin spice flavor, as does Pillsbury’s Cinnabon Grands! biscuits. Both Dunkin and Starbucks canned coffee beverages (with licensees Coca-Cola and Pepsico, respectively) include a limited pumpkin spiced ice coffee. Last year, celebrity baker Duff Goldman paired with the Kellogg’s NYC Café for a limited-edition full-course menu that incorporated Kellogg’s cereals and helped introduce a limited edition of Pumpkin Spice Frosted Flakes.
  • Adding scent. Walmart’s Better Homes & Gardens home goods range includes a candle featuring the scent of spiced pumpkin pie. Meanwhile, Dunkin lip balm, available as a promotional product for sale on the brand’s merchandise website and in its stores, comes in a pumpkin spice variety in 2019.
  • Incorporating color. Converse collaborated with rapper A$AP Nast on a Jack Purcell chukka boot in a color dubbed pumpkin spice. Artists including Linda Woods and Elizabeth Silver (the latter represented by Jewel Branding and Licensing), among many others, have created artworks or collections with pumpkin spice-inspired hues. Many such offerings are available on the leading print-on-demand sites; Woods, for example, offers pumpkin spice-themed bags, stationery, beach towels, pillows, and the like through Fine Art America.
  • Creating content themes. Skinny Dip London has produced cell phone covers, nail decals, and other novelty goods featuring designs tied to Starbucks’ pumpkin spice lattés. Sports-themed print-on-demand site Fanprint offers a number of designs featuring pumpkin spice-related phrases for college teams such as the Texas A&M Aggies, Auburn Tigers, University of Tennessee Volunteers, and Louisiana State University Tigers, as well as pro teams such as the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.

Although consumers seem to love pumpkin spice, the trend may be reaching a point of saturation this year. Not only have these limited editions been hitting the market earlier, but the spectrum of products available is broader than ever. Pumpkin spice has permeated the usual lattés, donuts, and scented candles and is extending its reach into Spam meats from Hormel, bagels from Trader Joe’s, beard oil from Texas Beard Co., scented sprays from Poo-Pourri, and kale chips from Angel Kale Co. The question is, how far is far enough?

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