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Clarity Pumpkin Spice Index Part III: What’s Up with Real People Pumpkin Spice Season (RPPSS)?

In Part II of the Clarity Pumpkin Spice Index, the recent declines in pumpkin spice (PS)-related media coverage led me to hypothesize that, perhaps, people are remembering they like hot chocolate more. But the fact is, quantity of media coverage does not necessarily relate to consumption levels. To get a better idea of whether that is or isn’t the case, we decided to dig up some real people pumpkin spice season (RPPSS) data.

According to a survey conducted by spice brand Spice Islands, 46 percent of Americans consume more PS-flavored products during fall than they do chocolate products. How much chocolate those people consume year ‘round wasn’t disclosed, so we can’t accurately say they like PS better than chocolate.

Regardless, the Spice Island survey showed that a lot of people actually are consuming PS-flavored items on the regular. As we see in the chart below, 66 percent said they consume one to three of these items per week during fall. 69 percent indicated they’d had at least one PS thing within the year. I guess 31 percent of Americans are PS Abstainers (PSAs).

We had our friends at Chicory, whose technology makes recipes instantly shoppable, take a look at activity from their platform to see what other RPPSS insights we could glean.

For one, we see that RPPSS starts later than does media PSS (MPSS). From August 1 to 15, nary a pumpkin appeared in the platform’s top 100 recipes. During the second half, two made the cut, then in the first half of September, the total hit seven.

From August 16 to 31, the big winner by views was Pumpkin Bars, however Pumpkin Caramel Cream Cheese Poke Cake (are you hungry yet?) had much higher engagement.

Even after RPPSS kicks in in September, it’s interesting to note that all but one of our pumpkin recipes are for sweets – and the odd man out is for Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice. Not a single one of the pumpkin recipes in Chicory’s Top 100 for the first half of September is a Pumpkin Spice drink. Pumpkin bars remain the winner when it comes to views, but pumpkin snickerdoodles and the aforementioned homemade pumpkin pie spice win the engagement war, each with a .85% CTR (Chicory’s benchmark is .4).

Since there’s a clear interest in homemade pumpkin pie spice, Chicory also looked at the breakdown of views for each of PS’s core components and how they change over time. Across the board, cinnamon is the clear leader, dwarfing all of the other PS parts (PSPs) and PS itself. This reminded me of the classic Seinfeld quote, “Cinnamon. It should be on tables in restaurants along with salt and pepper. Anytime someone says, "Ooh, this is so good - what's in this?" the answer invariably comes back, ‘cinnamon.’"

All of our PSPs are gaining views over time, but not necessarily proportionally. For example, PS itself moved from Chicory’s 325th most viewed ingredient between August 1st through 15th, to the 137th most viewed between September 1st through 15th.

When it comes to PS-flavored products on Chicory, there’s also a clear buildup of interest over time. And, despite the recipe trends, there’s a strong interest in PS-flavored drinkables. Pumpkin spice coffee creamer was the top viewed item by a mile, followed by Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses and Pumpkin Spice Chips, but vodka and liqueurs (including Kahlua) are also in the running.

We’ll get our hands on data from September 15 to October 15th and update soon!


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