Frontline Marketing

Pumpkin Spice Lattes Earn Starbucks Over $240K Earned Media Value

Pumpkin and fall leaves on purple surface

By | October 10, 2017 |

It’s that time of year to watch the leaves turn, grab a jacket and pumpkin spice all the things. Starbucks, creator of the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte, is feeling the annual love as customers flock to partake in sensory nostalgia.

“Nobody knew back then what it would grow to be,” Peter Dukes, Starbucks product manager who led the development of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, said in a statement. “It’s taken on a life of its own.”

The original Pumpkin Spice Latte—or PSL or short—returned to Starbucks locations September 1 to a social media fanfare as it “hatched” on Facebook Live. The activation parodied the Hatchimals craze of last holiday season when one of the toys opened on Facebook Live and received 1.4 million views.

We’re pretty sure Starbucks said something to the effect of, “Hold my latte,” because one post about the PSL Pumpkin Hatch earned over 933,000 views alone, not to mention the livestream, itself. To be fair, there were kittens. Kittens.

Last year, the coffee brand created a verified social media account just for the seasonal drink called “The Real PSL.” Portrayed as a latte wearing sunglasses posing in a variety of fall settings, PSL celebrated its fourteenth birthday with a cake and wished for more fall.

Just how beloved is Starbucks’ fall tradition? The official PSL Instagram account boasts over 37,000 followers and 115,000 followers on Twitter, each with tens of thousands of engagements.

While Starbucks is far from the only brand adding pumpkin spice flavoring to its products, the seasonal-favorite latte never fails to get the internet talking.

To calculate how much marketing Starbucks would’ve had to invest to receive similar marketing results, we calculated the earned media value from posts about pumpkin spice from September 1 to October 9.

“Earned media” is the value of engagements a brand receives across channels as a result of their marketing efforts. To help quantify what the value of those engagements is worth, Ayzenberg Group established the Ayzenberg Earned Media Value Index (AEMVI) and assigned a quantifiable dollar amount for marketing gains a brand receives from a campaign or individual engagement that includes social media networks and similar digital properties. (Editor’s note: AListDaily is the publishing arm of Ayzenberg Group. To read the updated AEMVI report reflecting the rapid changes in social, click here.)

Since the original “pumpkinated” coffee drink returned on September 1, social media posts mentioning the official Starbucks account, combined with hashtags like #PumpkinSpiceLatte, #PSL, #PSLIsBack or #PumpkinSpice have exceeded 50,000. These calculations do not include individual posts to TheRealPSL social accounts or the PSL Pumpkin Hatch, so the EMV is actually much higher.

The drink’s popularity has prompted Starbucks to release exclusive Pumpkin Spice Latte products, including ready-to-drink bottles of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Flavored Ground Coffee and Spice Caffe Latte K-Cup Pods.