It’s Pumpkin Season! Are You in on the Trend?

If you look around the supermarket or any coffee shop these days, you might think fall has been re-named “pumpkin spice season.”

Over on Goldstar’s new consumer blog, they reported on the bevy of pumpkin-themed events, everything from pumpkin beer tastings to entire festivals dedicated to the humble gourd.

These events show a few good examples of joining in a consumer craze to bring more attention to your events, and how to create an event around a thing (in this case pumpkins) that people are already excited about.

However, as Jim cautioned in his post Learning the Wrong Lesson From Artificial Scarcity, your event needs to do more than simply cash in on the limited-time nature of fall/pumpkin season:

“Just because the Pumpkin Spice Latte works for Starbucks doesn’t mean that the strategy of saying something is “limited” works generically. True, the human brain hates having something taken away, and this feeds the “Fear of Missing Out.” Yet, for this to have a meaningful impact, you have to care in the first place, at least some.

We all know examples of the idea of “artificial scarcity” working because they’re the success stories. We don’t record all the times it was tried and failed and tally those against the rate of success. We just forget (or never knew about) the failures!

So, don’t fall victim to “Pretendinitis” because you heard that Starbucks made money from limiting the Pumpkin Spice Latte. That wasn’t the initial strategy. The initial strategy was to create a product with a fall theme to spike sales. It happened to work and work very well. They built on it very nicely and now benefit from the “scarcity” that it only happens in fall.

If your strategy starts with creating scarcity before creating demand, you just end up with a flop: a product no one wants and there isn’t much of.

Don’t build perceived demand. Build actual demand and then manage the perception.”

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