Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte and the Countdown to Camp

woman drinking coffee

Whether you’re counting down the days to camp or the first day of classes, anticipation is a key part of the experience for those who are participating. No one gets this better than Starbucks.

Every year, Starbucks welcomes fall with a special drink that emerges for only a few months: The Pumpkin Spice Latte. With over 200 million cups sold per year, this Starbucks heavyweight rakes in a whopping $1 billion in revenue, inspiring memes and more than 2.5 million posts on social media annually.

But here’s my point: Most of the conversations about PSLs occur in July and August – BEFORE – the PSL is released. Of the 2.5 million social mentions the drink receives, more than half of them are about The Expectation. Not about the experience, the taste, cost, or the purchase itself, but just the excitement that comes BEFORE getting one.

What this means to youCTA Lifecycle Webinar part 3

Kids’ program directors should take note of what the Pumpkin Spice Latte teaches us: Help your campers and students (and their parents) ride the wave of anticipation in the weeks and days leading up to your events. This is the period after purchase, but before participation. Your job here is two-fold:

  • Capitalize on the excitement your customers feel before your event.
  • Anticipate what they need to best engage.

Learn how to do this with social media (in only 15 minutes).

Countdown to Camp

Starbucks plays up the countdown to the first cup of the season. What do your customers most anticipate about your program? Think about both audiences—kids and parents—and how to ‘countdown’ or launch your season with fanfare for each.

For kids: What are highlights of the session? The Blob? The zipline? The all-camp shaving cream fight?

For parents: There’s a golden opportunity for humor here. While kids anticipate a week of fun and excitement, parents may most anticipate some peace and quiet at home—a tidy house? Date nights? A peaceful dip in the pool after work?

Try unveiling a new sneak peak every day on Facebook, with images illustrating the parent/kid anticipation contrast in a fun way.

Build a Sense of Belonging

Create an air of exclusivity or membership even where none naturally exists. Starbucks did this when they launched another social media campaign around the Pumpkin Spice Latte called ‘The Orange Sleeve Society’. Yes, hardcore latte lovers can get a special knit coffee sleeve and official member card to this society.

Making your camp or school gear available online can build this customer anticipation and identity­—especially for your youth audience.

Camp & Class Manager can make this process a snap.

Infuse Excitement at Every Step

Give the sense that the tools and resources you’re providing in the anticipate phase are part of the overall package. For example, frame your prep materials as “Welcome Kits” or “Readiness Guides” to generate excitement that could never be found in terms like “paperwork,” “forms,” and “checklists.”

These tactics may even stir your own excitement for camp season. And after all your hard work, the Pumpkin Spice Latte awaits…(in only 4 months!)

To pick up some great ideas in only 15 minutes for how you can use social media to do this, join us on Thursday, May 19 for a quick tutorial.

CTA Lifecycle Webinar Part 3 Social Media