Business

Forget Pumpkin Spice, Pepsi Leans Into Another Fall Favorite

The beverage giant has put a familiar taste into beverage form (and you will be surprised by what it is)

The virality of Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Starbucks Corporation Report's Pumpkin Spice Latte has, for many people, pushed out all other flavors when it comes to people's associations with fall. Candy apples, cranberries, cider and even Halloween candy all pale in comparison to the dominance of the loosely "autumnal" combination of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

For pumpkin spice lovers, the first months of fall are a wonderful time of the year — business intelligence company Morning Consult found that 25% of Americans feel that late August is not too early to start selling pumpkin spice products.

But for everybody else, aggressive pumpkin marketing can start to wear on the nerves when you're seeing it on every shelf. The same study found that 33% of adults feel that even mid-September is still too early to get hit with a pumpkin spice onslaught.

Chocolate, Graham Crackers And Marshmallow

With an abundance of pumpkin spice drinks and foods on the menus of Starbucks and Dunkin (DNKN) - Get Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc. Report, Pepsi (PEP) - Get PepsiCo Inc. Report chose to lean into another time-honored early fall tradition for its newest product: cooking s'mores on a campfire.

Called the Pepsi S'mores Collection, the line includes three 7.5-ounce bottles of cola in the flavors of Chocolate, Graham Cracker and Toasty Marshmallow.

Fans can, Pepsi says in a press release, either drink them individually or mix together in a cold glass for a true s'mores flavor.

"S'mores is one of the most unapologetically delicious treats that everyone likes to enjoy in a different way," Pepsi's Chief Marketing Officer Todd Kaplan says in a statement. "[...] This newest drop allows fans to construct their own s'mores to their liking – with the perfect amounts of graham, marshmallow, and chocolate – in a deliciously indulgent drink without any of the mess."

This product is a special edition flavor that will not be hitting the shelves or sold online — those who want to see what Pepsi tastes when paired with chocolate, crackers and marshmallows will need to share how they make their s'mores on either Instagram or Twitter (TWTR) - Get Twitter Inc. Report.

Pepsi will find contestants through the #PepsiSmores and #Sweepstakes hashtags (don't forget to use them!) and mail them a pack of the Pepsi S'mores Collection.

Limited-Edition Flavors And Marketing

Pepsi regularly releases unique flavors that it does not sell but uses for various sweepstakes, partnerships and promotions.

In March, it partnered with Dine Global (DIN) - Get Dine Brands Global Inc. Report chain International House of Pancakes for a maple-syrup cola that mixed "the indulgent flavor profile of maple syrup with the crisp, refreshing caramel notes of a Pepsi."

The concept was the same in that Pepsi did not sell Pepsi Maple Syrup Cola but mailed 2,000 samples and a Pepsi Spout made to look like IHOP's iconic syrup pitchers to those who posted stacks of pancakes on social media.

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In 2021, it collaborated with Easter candy company Peeps as well as caramel popcorn maker Cracker Jack.

Such promotions are meant to keep people talking about the brand online. It is a doubly whammy in that regular fans like to see something new while those who drink Pepsi rarely or not at all can get drawn in by another brand they recognize or just the curiosity of what they thought were incompatible flavors.

The chain also benefits as those who participate in the contests and post about Pepsi online also directly help do a brand's marketing for it.

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This story was originally published September 22, 2022 4:16 PM.

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