Since 2003, a major coffee drink retailer has cleverly promoted a particular flavor at their stores that is available only in the autumn.
There is an annual cacophony of hype toward the end of August about when the Pumpkin Spice Latte will arrive.
I suppose that product has remained profitable enough to repeat the hype and release every year since then.
Also since then, we’ve seen a proliferation of pumpkin spice products elsewhere in the marketplace. Pumpkin spice candles, air freshener, lip balm, beer, potato chips, fettuccini, tires.
What? Tires? Yes.
Thanks to the internet, we were entertained when people started posting on social media other examples of clever marketing schemes using the pumpkin spice allure. My favorite was a marquee in front of a tire store one September: “Buy 3, Get 1 Free, Pumpkin Spice Tires. Limited Time.”
For a marketing genius, harnessing the power of someone else’s trend for one’s own promotion just makes sense. That is, it makes sense as long as it makes sense.
Now, there’s a new buzz word in town.
When I first heard the term “plant-based” a few years ago, it was in reference to a healthy lifestyle choice that was based on eating plants. As a vegetarian for a number of years, I thought this descriptive terminology might attract more people to consider eating plants instead of animals. It sounded more inclusive than restrictive.
“Plant-based” has a nice ring to it – it just sounds healthful. Food from nature. Simple. I liked the idea of a comfortable-sounding, easy-to-understand way to explain how I choose to eat (not that it really matters to anyone else, but people do ask. All. The. Time.).
Further, I thought it would help omnivores better understand the similarities of “vegetarian” and “vegan” without getting into a lengthy discussion about the differences.
The term was intended to describe the types of foods one consumes – like vegetables, fruit and nuts. Coffee, tea, beer and wine are plant-based, too.
These are foods and beverages.
So, imagine my surprise when I happened to see a commercial on Hulu a few weeks ago: Gain laundry detergent is promoting its same old stuff as a new product that is plant-based. Really? Who eats that? (Please don’t go all Tide Pods on me here. I’m trying to make a point.)
Then last week, I read the label on the bug repellent we’ve been using every afternoon while sitting out in the yard enjoying the evening. Plain as day, in red: “Plant-Based.” I suppose that makes it healthy for the bugs? Because I’m certainly not eating that!
Now I’m curious to see what other products and their marketers are going to jump on this plant-based bandwagon.
I suppose those pumpkin spice products can all purport to be plant-based, though I won’t be eating any of them.
Interestingly, even the comedian who marketed his tires as “pumpkin spice” can do the same for “plant based,” because the small amount of natural rubber in tires does indeed come from a tree.
But I’m not eating that either.