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Pumpkin Spice to the Rescue

Ethan Chernofsky
September 2, 2021
Pumpkin Spice to the Rescue

It’s difficult to properly contextualize the overwhelming power of the Pumpkin Spice Latte and the excitement it generates. In 2019, and then again last summer in a season heavily affected by COVID, the drink consistently managed to drive significant visits to Starbucks locations nationwide.

And the push is incredibly strategic as it helps to herald in the coffee giant’s fall and winter strength after months of spring and summer. But could the launch deliver yet again?

The Unstoppable PSL

Looking at weekly visits compared to 2019 reinforces the tremendous recovery that Starbucks has seen in recent months. From February where visits were down well over 20% compared to the equivalent weeks in 2019, May and June were already showing visits back at or above 2019 levels. And the summer only fueled that growth with visits up all but one week since the start of July.

Yet, there were reasons for concern as the week just prior to the PSL launch showed visits down 2.4%. However, the PSL appears to have delivered once again with the week of the launch driving visits up 3.5% compared to the equivalent week in a strong 2019 summer season.

While the comparison to 2019 shows the strength of the week for the coffee giant, looking at visits week over week further highlights the power of the launch. Visits were up 12.3% week over week - a massive lift considering the huge number of regular Starbucks visitors each week nationwide and the regularity of those visits.

And the impact comes into even clearer view when looking at the offline performance of the brand on the specific days following the launch. Comparing each day to the four week window prior shows an average uplift of 14.9% over the six days following the PSL launch on Tuesday, August 24th. This culminated with a weekend surge that saw visits spike 20.8% on Saturday and 19.3% on Sunday compared to the four prior weekends. The PSL launch and its success is just the latest show of Starbucks’s unique ability to own the calendar and drive visits with seasonal products and campaigns.

Dunkin’s PSL Push

Starbucks wasn’t the only Pumpkin Spiced game in town this year. Dunkin’ launched its own PSL a week prior on August 18th. And the brand saw its own surge as well. Visits the week of the launch were up 8.4% compared to the equivalent week in 2019.

And the daily lift was significant as well. The first four days following the launch saw visits up an average of 12.2% compared to the three weeks prior. However, the level of growth did dissipate following the launch with Sunday, August 22nd seeing visits 5.2% lower than the average visits on the previous three Sundays. The overall success shows how significant these campaigns can be and how they can effectively be applied across a sector - even where there’s one brand more directly associated with it.

Will the PSL surge carry Starbucks’s growth into September? Visit to find out.

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