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Even before the first leaves turn orange and golden, there is one clear indicator that fall is upon us, an order heard around the world: Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL), please. 

When Starbucks first created the PSL in 2003, no one, not even the then director of espresso, Peter Dukes, could have anticipated the cultural phenomenon that would be pumpkin spice. Now synonymous, not just with the season’s change, but simply impending autumn, Starbucks seemed to capitalize on our tendency to celebrate the turning of the seasons, especially the entrance into fall and the holidays to come.

Food & Wine has featured an entire history of Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte, revealing that, since its launch, there have been nearly 425 million PSLs sold. Something is going right in marketing. 

But pumpkin spice isn’t owned by Starbucks, so does it make sense for other brands to capitalize on the same nostalgic, emotional response, especially now that there is a name, flavor, and scent to add to it?

Medium writer Michael Beausoleil thinks yes. In his article, “The Secret Genius of Pumpkin Spice Market”, “While many people associate the PSL with Starbucks, restaurants and retailers have fully leaned into the craze. Due to the number of pumpkin-flavored treats available in the second-half of the calendar year, it would be logical to assume its culinary gold. Someone needs to be making money from this sensation, and there has to be a reason it gets promoted so heavily each year.”

At National Restaurant Consultants, our teams spend a large portion of time analyzing current trends and predicting future ones. This practice is not just an awareness of what’s going on in the market, but a study of what is working, why, and how it can be integrated into our clients’ business models. 

While not every restaurant needs to start offering a pumpkin spice menu item, Beausoleil notes that going along with a competitive trend can sometimes make a difference in profits. “Over the past two decades, the supply of pumpkin spice offerings have increased at an alarming rate. The demand has grown as well, and each year brings new innovations.”

Our restaurant consultants are experts in menu development and can help you decide how to best adjust for seasonal flavors and market trends. Contact a restaurant consultant today for guidance on your upcoming seasonal menus and how to capitalize, not only on pumpkin spice, but on the many food trends diners are associating with the season.