Seasonal Flavour Trends Drive New Product Launches

Expect to see more hard seltzers tapping into Autumnal flavour trends, as well as hyper-local variants and more niche seasonal flavours


Autumn drinks have long been led by spiced and pumpkin focused flavours. But to entice consumers now increasingly driven by better-for-you and wellness cues, this season’s raft of new launches explore new seasonal twists.

The addition of Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte to its seasonal menu has become not only a sure signal that autumn is here, but also a calendar event in itself in markets such as the US and UK. Come each September, numerous think pieces on the allure of the flavour, as well as a flurry of headlines marking its arrival emerge. Figures reported by CNBC last year show that more than 424 million Pumpkin Spice Lattes have been sold by Starbucks since its 2003 launch.

The coffee, which combines Starbucks espresso roast, pumpkin pie-flavoured sauce, steamed milk, whipped cream and pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves), is showing no signs of dwindling popularity over the years, and has in turn inspired numerous pumpkin spice beers. But for 2020, something new is emerging.

Two mega trends have collided with the emergence of pumpkin spice hard seltzers: a better-for-you take on a seasonal trend, and a play on the growing popularity of the hard seltzer trend. For example, hard seltzer brand Vive is one of the seltzer brands to take on this juggernaut of a flavour, with brand co-founder Jake Rouse commenting that the consumer base for pumpkin spice and hard seltzers perfectly align. In a statement, he said: “There are so few other products where a flavour profile and a customer base align so directly, that we wanted to be sure that we nailed the flavour. Vive Pumpkin Spice is likely going to be laughed at initially, but when you try it, you’ll quickly understand why we’re thrilled to launch.”

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The flavour has spawned other industries to tap into the trend too – a sub-market has recently appeared on US crafts ecommerce website, Etsy, for home-crafted mock-ups of a White Claw pumpkin spice drinking cup, with drinking cups for this fantasy flavour seemingly aimed both at brand devotees and those who like to poke fun at them. Though no official pumpkin spice White Claw has been announced yet, we expect to see more hard seltzer brands follow suit with the flavour trend.

Beyond pumpkin – which we are also seeing picked up by the flavoured whiskey category this year – brands are looking to hyper-local seasonal ingredients that speak of the autumnal terroir of where they are based. Swedish distiller Mackmyra, for example, is using seasonal berries from the forest surrounding the distillery for its fall release. Meanwhile, Scottish brand Buck and Birch has recently launched a public appeal for donations of foraged autumnal produce, namely crab apples and rosehips, with which to make its liqueur.

And though apple is also establishing itself as a key autumnal flavour, other orchard fruits are now being used to add a different seasonal spin. The Champagne-inspired Porter’s Orchard Gin uses green apples and pears cold-distilled into its classic juniper base; and Adnams’ newest spirit is inspired by a fruiting quince tree growing within sight of the Adnams Copper House Distillery in Southwold, UK, for a new take on fragrant autumn orchard fruit.

A round-up of some of 2020’s most compelling autumn launches is included in IWSR’s product innovation tracker, Radius, and is available to current IWSR Radius subscribers by logging in here. For more information about Radius or IWSR, please get in touch with us. 


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