It used to be that Labor Day marked the unofficial end of summer. I know plenty of people, however, who would argue that the day Starbucks starts selling its beloved pumpkin spice latte (PSL) again is the new the signal of fall. And that day has arrived. But for us marketers and communicators, it doesn’t just mean “sweater weather” is on its way; it also means communications planning season is upon us. So what can this bold, spicy coffee drink that has amassed a cult following teach us (besides how to tweet as an inanimate object)? Why you must market to and reach your target audience.

According to the National Coffee Association, about 83 percent of adults drink coffee in the U.S. But rather than marketing to all two million of America’s coffee drinkers, Starbucks took a smarter, strategic approach with its PSL. It zeroed in on a much more specific audience.

Starbucks’ primary customers consist of men and women aged 25 to 40 who are hip, contemporary and willing to shell out a few extra dollars for a specialty drink (specialty coffee drinks account for 75 percent of Starbucks’ sales). Using this data, the company created a fun, seasonal campaign that targeted its ideal customer through ads and social media.

Instead of trying to convert traditional coffee drinkers into PSL lovers, Starbucks focused on how to reach its target audience, and it worked. Since the PSL was introduced 13 years ago, Starbucks has sold more than 350 million of them.

Another lesson to learn from the PSL: while many customers go crazy over the limited time offer…reach your audience with psl

…Starbucks knows that to be successful, you can’t please everyone.PSL

Are you in the midst of communications planning and need to identify and reach your target audience? Download our guide to learn more.

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With a background in journalism, Rachel combines her passion for news with her expertise in media relations to deliver effective results. She also handles day-to-day communication with clients, media outreach, social media activities, writing and messaging. Rachel provides strategic counsel to clients across the healthcare and business industries and is a critical team member for Stern Strategy Group's architecture and design accounts. If you can’t find Rachel at her desk, she is probably behind the camera filming one of Stern’s in-house videos. And when not at work, you can find her at one of three places: on a run, on a soccer field or on the beach.