THE CLARUS Blog

How Does Pumpkin Spice Affect Customer Loyalty?

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You’re probably sick of hearing about it, yet it’s only just started.

Pumpkin flavored muffins, pumpkin pie, and the overly talked about pumpkin spice latte are here. You dread all the hype surrounding pumpkin spice, but you eventually find yourself in line giving in.

Why?

Because pumpkin spice treats are delicious. Plus, Starbucks, with its gourmet version and its effective advertising gives you no choice. And once you give in, you’re hooked.

And if you think you’re alone in this unbreakable cycle, you’re severely mistaken.

In fact, when Starbucks unleashed their famed pumpkin spice latte on the masses last year, there was a chain reaction that registered 150,000 more visits in the first two days than on a normal day and saw their national market share increase, where most of their competitors remained flat or lost shares.

While pumpkin spice lattes might be a gateway to get people in the door, it’s an important piece of the customer experience and has made Starbucks customers very brand loyal.

The lattes are merely the vehicle to get people in the door, and Starbucks knows that once customers get a taste, and experience what Starbucks has to offer, they’ll keep coming back.

And it’s not just the pumpkin spice lattes, but the chain also brings in customers with “unicorn” and “mermaid” drinks, playing off of their shareability on social media.

That first impression, especially for dormant customers and new customers, is crucial, as those customers will then (hopefully) start ordering more, and then eventually start using their app/rewards program. And boy is that app addicting.

Starbucks mixes things up all the time, giving consumers varied chances to get free stuff, early access to new menu items and a gold card when they reach a certain level of stars.

With all these steps, customers feel special and also feel like they’re in an exclusive club, filled with special food and beverages.

That deliberate focus is done on purpose, which allows them to separate themselves from competitors like Dunkin Donuts, and local coffee shops.

Starbucks does a great job with customer loyalty.Many retailers have started to focus more on the interaction between customer and business as well.

For example, Amazon and GameStop haven’t built their brands around being elite or expensive, yet their premium loyalty programs, Prime and PowerUp Rewards, offer premium experiences, which incentivize their members to keep coming back.

In the end, it’s simply not enough to offer incentives on big holidays like Black Friday or Cyber Monday; relationships are built from consistent beneficial interactions with customers.

How can retailers build a similar premium loyalty solution? By creating an environment that is fun and easily integrated into their customer’s daily lives.

Hold customer appreciation events, give your loyalty members early access to a hot product, host an in-store mini concert series for members-only or give them unlimited free shipping and returns. Once you’ve brought them in, keep them engaged.

Just remember that it all can all start with a pumpkin spice latte, or the symbolic version of one — a great offer to get your customers into the loyalty program followed by benefits that get them coming back in again and again.

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