Starbucks has a lot to do with the pumpkin takeover every autumn: It introduced a seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte back in 2003, kicking off a mainstream marketing tidal wave that has been felt around the world. It even has its own Twitter feed (114k followers)!
Other marketers incorporated pumpkin flavors earlier (such as Pumpkinhead Ale from Maine's Shipyard Brewing Company), but given the pop-culture status of Starbucks, its marketing is most likely what gave pumpkin spice a high profile in autumn.
Here's the thinking: Seasonal/limited time variations of products generate excitement and bring customers back for a taste and then for repeat purchases. Plus pumpkin builds buzz.
Of course food and beverage marketers have embraced pumpkin flavors, but so have hair salons.
- McDonald's will offer pumpkin sauce french fries in Japan this fall.
- Pumpkin Spice Cheerios and Nascar. Check it out.
- Restaurants are featuring pumpkin pierogies and other specialties for fall.
- Trader Joe's is stocking 70 pumpkin-related products this fall, 10 more than in 2015.
- Pumpkin-spice dog treats are a thing now. Really.