Pumpkin Spice is Oh So Nice

Pumpkin Spice is Oh So Nice

Naomi Sleeper
Vice President Continuous Improvement and Strategic Initiatives
Imperial Distributors


As the perfect symbol of the transition from summer to fall, Starbucks’ Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew beverage is launching the first week of September. Nostalgic for the annually awaited Pumpkin Spice Latte (gracing Starbucks menus with its earliest seasonal debut at the end of August this year), consumers are all in on the new fall-flavored treat to cool off from summer heat.

2019 is “The Year of the Pumpkin,” according to The National Garden Bureau, and the love for pumpkin spice is hotter than ever. Google Trends shows “Pumpkin Spice” trending above last year by 40%. A study conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, revealed that 68% of 2,000 surveyed Americans crave pumpkin spice before the fall season starts; furthermore, 41% would give up alcohol and 28% would give up chocolate before giving up pumpkin spice coffee. And the results get wilder: 41% of pumpkin spice consumers said they would stand in line at the DMV once a month, and 35% would name their child “Pumpkin Spice” for a lifetime of pumpkin spice coffee!

The pumpkin spice trend provides a huge sales and merchandising opportunity for supermarket retailers well beyond flavored coffee. From breakfast cereals to English muffins, peanut butter, ice cream, candy and even SPAM, Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice everything abounds. The opportunity is not just in grocery categories; pumpkin spice is flavoring Health, Beauty and Wellness (HBW) and General Merchandise (GM) categories, too.

To make the most of this pumpkin and spice frenzy, supermarkets should be sure to include this year’s top related HBW and GM seasonal products:

Nutrition bars: Kind, Rx and Quest all have pumpkin spice bars available for the season that can be merchandised in both grocery and wellness category sections.

Pet treats: Apparently, it’s not just humans that like the flavor of pumpkin, cinnamon and ginger. Seasonal pumpkin-spiced pet edibles include a variety of chewable pet treats (e.g. Greenies, Fruitables), and even a pet-safe instant pumpkins spice latte for dogs (courtesy of The Honest Kitchen). Cooked pumpkin can actually benefit pet digestion, according to Patton Vet Hospital, making canned pumpkin a great grocery tie-in with these pet items.

Pet merchandise: Stores can build out their pumpkin-spice and harvest-themed pet display with other HBW and GM pet items. Pumpkin-spice pet shampoo, and pumpkin and harvest themed collars and pet toys provide stores more products for inspiring shoppers to include pets in the pumpkin and harvest fun

Lip balm: A perfect way to enjoy the flavor of pumpkin spice without the calories of a sugary latte, Burt’s Bees Pumpkin Spice Moisturizing Lip Balm brings the trend to the health and beauty category. Tie this in with ingredients for a DIY pumpkin brightening mask (canned pumpkin, cinnamon, honey) for an in-store pumpkin-spice beauty destination.

Candles & Scented Oils: The aroma of pumpkin spice emits the autumn spirit as much as the taste. Pumpkin spice candles, diffusers, sprays, oil plug-ins and potpourris provide more opportunities for shoppers to enjoy the feeling of fall both in the store and at home.

Pumpkin-themed textiles and tablewear: Deepening fall seasonal assortments with pumpkin and harvest-themed dining and décor make seasonal displays pop and provide shoppers with more ways to celebrate fall throughout the season. Pumpkin-decorated kitchen towels, tablewear, ceramics and glasswear add the visual element to shoppers’ multisensory pumpkin-spice experience, as well as opportunities for incremental sales.

Pumpkin tools: To round out the pumpkin theme, we can’t leave out the actual pumpkins! In addition to making beautiful home decor for the harvest season, the pumpkins themselves can be quite useful. Cleaning out pumpkins is not just for jack-o-lanterns; with a pumpkin tap, pumpkins can transform into beverage-serving vessel for shoppers’ best craft concoctions. Stores can merchandise pumpkin taps with early-season pumpkin displays to inspire fall festivity well before Halloween.

Capitalizing on consumers’ love for pumpkin spice with a broad assortment of related HBW and GM products enhances stores and shoppers transition from summer to fall. Given the relevance of the pumpkin theme throughout the fall season through Halloween and Thanksgiving, merchandising these products during the summer-fall transition period translates to greater seasonal sell-through. Here’s to a delicious fall season!