It’s that time of year where pumpkin spice lattes are the caffeinated beverage of choice. It’s nearly impossible to find someone on the street who’s not carrying one of these autumn-inspired drinks, or ordering one from their favorite coffee shop’s drive-through window. Even if you don’t like pumpkin spice lattes (otherwise known as PSLs), you probably still know someone who does. As it turns out, a lot of people like to not only imbibe the popular drink, but they also like to watch pumpkin spice latte videos in their free time.
When we dove into Tubular’s software, we discovered that videos featuring PSLs are naturally one of the hottest trends occurring this season. Everyone wants to see what’s “new” about this beloved, traditional fall beverage, and they’re contributing views on PSL videos at a rate probably similar to how quickly coffee shops are selling the drinks themselves. Let’s take a deeper look at this trend and explore ways your brand can incorporate PSLs into your digital video strategy!
Pumpkin Spice Latte Videos Are Hot When They’re in Season
First of all, it should go without saying that a search for “pumpkin spice latte” in Tubular’s software from the last three years produces a very distinct pattern: views on this term start to rise right around the middle of August and spike in September and October. This trend clearly coincides with the release of this particular flavor of drink across thousands of coffee shops around the world. Come November of every year, views on PSL content start to fall, dropping back to lower average view counts starting around early December (probably as the holidays ramp up and consumers are more interested in peppermint-y types of beverage content).
That being said, when pumpkin spice lattes are the center of attention in digital video, they rake in millions upon millions of views. In 2016, for example, PSL videos saw 18.7 million views in September 2016 and 20.5 million in October for a total of 39.2 million views. Those views almost doubled in 2017 to hit a total of 71.4 million (thanks to almost 42.1 million in September and 29.3 million in October). This year, about 10.5 million views have already been seen on PSL content from August 1-31, and roughly 3.2 million from just September 1-5.
Assuming this view rate stays the same each week (around 3.2-3.5 million), by the end of October 2018 we’ll see views on PSL videos match or slightly exceed those from 2016. However, this of course assumes nothing will change and no viral clips will boost views on the latte-based content, which seems unlikely the more brands and publishers distribute their own PSL videos over the next couple of months. Essentially, the PSL trend has plenty of time in September and October to catch up to and possibly beat last year’s number.
PSL Fans Prefer Facebook for Their Drink Videos
Tubular’s exclusive data reveals that PSL aficionados’ viewing platforms of choice when consuming content related to their favorite autumn drink is Facebook. The platform routinely pulls in millions of views on this type of content. For example, for all of 2017, pumpkin spice latte videos saw 80.8 million total views on Facebook!
There’s one unique exception here: PSL videos were more popular on YouTube in July 2016, 2017, and this year than on any other platform (there are 894K views so far in 2018). This odd discovery meant we had to dig deeper, and when we looked at the most popular PSL videos from the last 90 days across YouTube and Facebook, we found many of the clips from YouTube were either recipes for the drink or stories from creators getting their first sip of the season. By contrast, the pumpkin spice latte videos on Facebook were short meme-based clips celebrating the return of the coffee drink (as you can see in the clip above). Clearly, PSL stories are a compelling format audiences relate to specifically on YouTube, as are the recipes for the beverage, since viewers are likely beginning to ramp up their fall event planning and related shopping needs.
Tips for Brands Who Want a Taste of PSL Video Views
So what does this all mean for brands and publishers the rest of this year? While the PSL trend is short-lived (you really only have another couple months to create and release content about the topic), it only makes sense to tie it in to your digital video strategy as organically as possible across your social video platforms. Here are a few ideas for you to consider as you plan upcoming videos or web series:
- Release your own “thank goodness it’s PSL season again” tribute. The drink’s fans will definitely relate and are likely to share your clip with their fellow PSL lovers.
- Start a series about the iconic foods of fall, featuring PSL in one of the episodes. Not only will your fans enjoy learning something new, but they’ll also get to drool over their much-loved drink.
- Provide a recipe that involves the pumpkin spice latte, such as cupcakes boasting the flavor or a unique twist on the classic beverage.
- Get someone to try a PSL for the first time in their lives and record their experience. You may have to rack your brain to think of someone you know who hasn’t had one, but it’d be a really fun way to bring the latte into your content.
You can, of course, probably think of plenty of other ways to incorporate PSLs into your fall video strategy. Our biggest tip, besides tracking your data to make sure the content is working for you, is making sure what you’re distributing feels authentic to your brand — no one wants a video that feels forced and that exists only to try to gain views. Also, if you want to think really far ahead to 2019, plan to release pumpkin spice latte videos at the end of summer on YouTube before focusing heavily on content for Instagram and Facebook, since we saw that if you can tell a good PSL story or release a great recipe, you’re likely to pull in views and engagement on that platform early in the year.
Pumpkin spice latte videos are in season right now, so don’t waste a moment of them!