In recent years, the return of pumpkin spice lattes has become more hotly anticipated than the return of football season, Santa Claus and Justin Bieber combined. But it turns out the PSL hype machine is mainly just that: hype.
Market research company NPD Group decided to delve into the numbers behind pumpkin spice latte sales. What they found is that though PSLs are buzz-worthy for reasons beyond their caffeine content—like bringing new customers into Starbucks—most people aren’t actually feeding a severe latte addiction.
Looking at over 35,000 receipts from last fall and winter with their Checkout Tracking technology, NPD determined that 72 percent of PSL purchasers only ordered the beverage once during the season. An additional 20 percent of customers got the drink twice, leaving a mere 8 percent of PSL drinkers as hardcore consumers that had three or more of the sweet seasonal beverages.
So why do stores love pumpkin spice so much? All that PSL publicity is more about driving sales and traffic than actually moving as many of the drinks as possible. According to NPD’s data, not only do seasonal beverages increase visits and visit frequency, but “the average check for pumpkin latte buyers was $7.81, compared with $6.67 for non-buyers.”
“We do see more chains trying to drive visits with these special limited-time offers,” Warren Solochek, president of the NPD Group's food services division, told the Chicago Tribune. “It gives chains a chance to talk about themselves. It gives them exposure.”
The bad news, though, is that 8 percent of you out there just realized you have a problem. Who knew there was such a thing as a PSL lush?