Starbucks and the PSL


Who is to take credit, or rather, who is to blame for the outpouring of all things pumpkin spice? One of the major staples to the Pumpkin Spice diet is the Pumpkin Spice Latte, and the latte staple in the American consumer market is Starbucks. Starbucks News has stated the first Pumpkin Spice Latte was developed in early 2003 in a focus group that was set on creating an autumn drink that would capitalize on the season (Starbucks Newsroom, 2014). At the time, they were unaware at the cultural craze that would follow. Seasonal drinks were nothing new for the Starbucks Corporation, with previous developments such as the Peppermint Mocha, and the Eggnog Latte. 


However, once the drink was released, it gained instant popularity.  Today, within the Starbucks Company, the Pumpkin Spice Latte is referred to by its own acronym of PSL. It can be found during the fall season as its own marketing development. Window clings, coffee sleeves, as well as the chalkboard art found at any Starbucks store are laden with the PSL.


As a marketing strategy to profit on the Starbucks PSL, one can find a personified PSL on Twitter. The @TheRealPSL made its debut this year on social media on August 4, and is a rather adorable persona of the beloved seasonal drink. @TheRealPSL’s initial social media purpose was to serve as a marketing tool to engage followers to participate in games and challenges through the hashtag #spotthespice. 

starbucks-pumpkin-spice-latte-2014Followers who had completed the tasks were given a password that they could show or say to a barista at their neighborhood Starbucks, which would then in turn, “unlock” the early release of the PSL for that particular store. Participants that unlocked the early release would then receive an earlier-than-normal release of the seasonal drink (Starbucks Newsroom, 2014). Currently, @TheRealPSL’s Twitter engagement focuses on the further personification of the season’s beloved drink. Decked out in orange sunglasses and a generous topping of whipped cream, the PSL has developed its own entity, as if it has become a creature with its own thoughts, feelings, and of course, social media following. As of October 24, 2014, @TheRealPSL has a staggering Twitter following of 95,766 followers (Twitter, 2014).

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