The Wall Street Journal labeled it a “Halloween horror story.” The Internet called it something else: a “pumpkin panic.”
During the first week of October, the Journal reported that Starbucks stores around the country were running out of the syrup used to make its Pumpkin Spice Latte — one of several fall drinks the chain releases seasonally, for a limited time.
Customers, like those who frequent StarbucksGossip.com, were shocked.
“WHAT IS HAPPENING?” wrote one user.
The answer is simple.
“We need rituals,” said Katherine Sredl
, assistant professor in the Department of Marketing at the University of Notre Dame.
Sredl, who studies consumer consumption and seasonality, said that it’s no surprise when big-name items, like a spiced latte in October or brand of shoe during back-to-school shopping season, become inextricably linked with the season in which they appear.
“I think what consumers do really well is they place their products inside the meaning of those rituals,” Sredl said.
Buying becomes its own ritual, which can be a powerful marketing tool.
“Rituals, when they go well, give you a good emotional feeling, that’s what people want,” Sredl said. “They want to feel like there’s something they can rely on.”
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