How to ‘Pumpkin Spice’ Up Your Business If You’re Not a Coffee Shop

Pumpkin spice season has arrived, but you don’t have to serve coffee to jump on the bandwagon.
Coffee isn't the only thing that can be 'pumpkin spiced.' Add the flavor to baked goods or smoothie bowls. (Photo: Eleonora Tuveri/Shutterstock)

When fall rolls around every year, it seems like more and more businesses find ways to participate in the pumpkin spice craze. Of course, there is the original: the pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks. But other brands are rolling out a variety of pumpkin spice products, from cakes and juice to candles and even pumpkin butter spread.

According to Forbes, annual sales of pumpkin spice products surpassed $500 million in 2015, and mentions of pumpkin spice on restaurant menus jumped 21 percent in just a three-year span.

Related: Boost Profits with Seasonal Flavors

If you have a store or business that’s not a coffee shop, but still want to get in on the pumpkin spice trend this autumn, here are a few ideas from business owners and marketers.

Bake pumpkin goodness into your goods

The taste of pumpkin can be a great addition to almost any dessert. Laura M. Cummins, chief creative officer at Nine Dotz, suggested bakeries use the spice as their “flavor du jour” this fall and offer specials on pumpkin spice items.

“To stand out, I would really recommend that they create some unique baked goods with this flavor,” said Cummins. The uniqueness of a pumpkin-spiced butter cake, for example, could help you gain media exposure and drive traffic to your shop.

Light pumpkin-scented candles around your store


Don’t sell food? Try placing pumpkin spice scented candles around your shop. (Photo: Masson/Shutterstock)

According to John Bertino, founder and CEO of The Agency Guy, Inc., sometimes all it takes to boost sales during the fall season is to add a little pumpkin spice ambience into your store. A quick and easy way to do this would be adding the warm aroma of a few pumpkin spice candles around your store.

“As the renowned psychologist and marketer Robert Cialdini taught us in his famous book ‘Influence,’ people gravitate toward people with common interests and tastes,” said Bertino. “Thus, sharing a little love for pumpkin spice and the fall season may be all it takes to get that extra sale at the cash register.”

Related: 6 Sensory Branding Ideas to Grab Customers by Their Emotions


“Creating a limited time offer on a product definitely creates excitement. Partnering this beer with complementary dishes and desserts from restaurants and food trucks is a bonus.” -Laura M. Cummins (Photo: Laura M. Cummins)

Offer pumpkin-spice drinks other than coffee

If you own a bar, restaurant or food truck, you can provide other types of pumpkin-flavored drinks instead of coffee. Cummins recommended serving pumpkin spice beer, which is usually only available in October.

“Creating a limited time offer on a product definitely creates excitement,” she said. “Partnering this beer with complementary dishes and desserts from restaurants and food trucks is a bonus.”

As a healthier option, you can also make pumpkin spice smoothies, suggested Jenna Tanenbaum, founder of smoothie delivery company GreenBlender. She even shared her recipe: one cup of fresh cubed butternut squash or pumpkin, one banana, one teaspoon pumpkin spice, one teaspoon of matcha, one cup of water and one cup of ice — all blended to pumpkiny perfection.

“Pumpkins and butternut squash make the smoothie really creamy and sweet,” she said. “It’s a great and healthy substitute for the pumpkin spice latte craze.”

Related: Festive, Wintry Cocktail Ideas for Your Holiday Menu

Provide a seasonal incentive

Tons of consumers flock to Starbucks each fall to get the original pumpkin spice latte, so why not use that to your advantage?

Maggie Aland, marketing staff writer at Fit Small Business, said you can give away free gift cards to Starbucks this fall in exchange for an online review of your business.

“Just make sure that the gift card is in no way contingent on the nature of the review,” she said.

John Bertino

“Creating content around pumpkin spice is easy. The key is to focus on being useful, comprehensive and repurposing the content you create.” -John Bertino (Photo: John Bertino)

Create content about pumpkin spice

You don’t have to physically incorporate pumpkin spice into your business to hop on the trend. You can also leverage it in your online content and social media efforts, said Bertino. For instance, you could create blogs around pumpkin spice to draw in customers who may be following the trend, such as “What is Pumpkin Spice Anyway?” or “The Nutrition Facts of Pumpkin Spice.”

Related: 7 Tips for Successful Newsjacking

Just make sure your content is valuable and relates back to your business in some way. If you provide valuable content to people, you have the chance to make them into customers down the line, he said.

“Creating content around pumpkin spice is easy. The key is to focus on being useful, comprehensive and repurposing the content you create.”


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