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Ah, Fall. Crisp leaves, beautiful hikes, hot apple cider, and a deep division in the loyalty of coffee brand lovers. Wait, what was that last one? Fall is an amazing season, especially here in Boston. But with Fall and all its beautiful changes in foliage comes something else: the return of Fall flavored specialty coffee beverages.

In her article published in USA Today, Kelly Tyko makes the claim that we have Starbucks to blame (or praise) for the surge in popularity of the pumpkin spice flavored offerings. But what her claim ignores is that people have always cared about Fall and its flavors. Fall is a season of change in people’s lives; back to school, summer ending, new holidays down the pipeline—people care about Fall. 

What Starbucks and Dunkin’ have done is seize upon this season to make their customers care about their brand and its beverage offerings. 

So why do people care? Well, there are a few reasons.

Emotional Connection

Fall is a season comprised of distinct flavors, smells, and offerings. Pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, the list goes on. People have deep, emotional associations with these flavors. These have to do with times of change and the return of Fall, and coffee brands such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ have taken full advantage of this association.

No matter where you are, the Pumpkin Spice flavor will evoke an emotional connection that comes with the change of seasons. In fact, incoming smells are processed by the olfactory bulb, which is directly connected to emotion and memory. For that reason, people will buy that connection as quickly as leaves fall off a tree

Starbucks and Dunkin’ have seized upon this season to make their customers care about their brand.

Reality Setting In

This time of year is back to reality for many people. The end of summer and its wonders is upon us, and many crave a sweet something to make the return to reality a little bit better.

For many, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and coffees incorporate this sweet form of escapism. Offering a nice, fall-themed way to escape the return back to the grind and to school.

Brands like Dunkin’ and Starbucks take full advantage of this, making sure people know when their favorite treat is fully available, as well as a return to simpler, happier times.

Loyalty to Coffee Brands

Above all, Dunkin’ and Starbucks have engendered a rabidly loyal consumer base, one that will buy their offerings in droves no matter the season. These customers will do so because the flavors give devotees another reason to feel good about their loyalty.

So will it be a Pumpkin Spice Latte, or a Dunkin’ Iced coffee? The first five people to comment and share get a coffee of their choice on us!

Curious about our other pieces on Coffee Brands? Find out more here.

Want to learn more about brands or brand strategy? We’d love to chat!

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