Starbucks and Dunkin' are starting Pumpkin Spice season earlier than ever, as customers grow desperate for 2020 to end
- Dunkin' is launching its fall menu — including its Pumpkin Spice Latte — on August 19, earlier than ever before.
- Starbucks' internal documents indicate the chain is planning to launch its Pumpkin Spice Latte on August 25, significantly earlier than past years.
- Dunkin's head of marketing said that the chain is bringing back the Pumpkin Spice Latte early because it is one thing customers can count on with "so much uncertainty" in 2020.
Pumpkin Spice season is starting earlier than ever in 2020.
Pumpkin Spice Cheerios and Chobani yogurt hit grocery shelves in early August. Sam Adams launched its fall beers — Jack-O Pumpkin Ale, OctoberFest and the Sweater Weather Variety Pack — on August 10. Dunkin' announced on Wednesday that it is debuting its fall menu on August 19, earlier than ever before.
Starbucks is also giving into autumnal creep. The brand's Pumpkin Spice products such as creamers and K-cups hit grocery shelves the first week of August. The Pumpkin Spice Latte seems guaranteed to hit Starbucks' menus in stores before August is over.
While one California store posted on Instagram that it was launching the PSL on August 28, an internal memo shared with Business Insider indicates the drink will return to menus on August 25 — the drink's earliest ever recorded launch.
Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice season often feels like it is starting earlier every year. In fact, at Starbucks usually launches the drink right around Labor Day. Growing hype and warmer summers due to climate change help make the launch date feel earlier for the average Starbucks customer.
Prior to 2018, the Pumpkin Spice Latte officially launched on the Tuesday after Labor Day every year, while offering an early launch for PSL super-fans. In 2018 and 2019, the chain launched the PSL on the Tuesday before Labor Day.
However, if the August 25 date ends up being the official PSL launch, that would mean Starbucks is launching the drink on a Tuesday two weeks before a Labor Day, which falls on September 8. With Dunkin' also launching its Pumpkin Spice products earlier than ever, both chains are deviating from their seasonal routines.
Starbucks did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment on its 2020 launch date. Dunkin's vice president of marketing strategy, Jill Nelson, hinted that the earlier launch is a purposeful strategy during a challenging year.
"While there is so much uncertainty heading into the fall, one thing our fans can count on is the return of pumpkin at Dunkin'," Nelson said in a statement to USA TODAY. "We're excited to bring them one of the most anticipated flavors earlier than ever before."
The desire for something soothing during a global pandemic is shaping shopping trends, as people gravitate towards well-known, nostalgic fast-food chains and comfortable clothing. Some people have been calling for an early return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte in recent weeks as a potential balm for a particularly stressful year.
—Janna Reeves (@JReevesMSN) August 2, 2020
—Cella Paz (@cellapaz) August 13, 2020
—Jenna Kausner (@Jennananana) August 5, 2020
—ThatViolinChick ✊✊✊ ️ (@TVCTwitch) August 5, 2020
Dunkin' and Starbucks seem happy to give these eager customers what they want — a single, positive thing to look forward to amid a pandemic and global recession.
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