New Trending Flavours for Autumn Beverage LTOs

pumpkin spice latte

Autumn limited time offer beverages remain popular with consumers and perform well during tough trading conditions

KerryDigest Fast Facts:

  • The seasonal autumnal beverage market continues to remain popular with foodservice brands worldwide.
  • While there’s still opportunity in traditional categories including pumpkin spice latte, brands can stand out through the use of novel and on-trend flavours.
  • Consumers are also embracing more niche drinks and formats, such as autumn iced beverages, sweet teas and milkshakes.

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KerryDigest Full Scoop:

Limited time offering (LTO) beverages play a crucial role for foodservice operators and should be strongly considered when planning new menu items. Seasonal LTOs unlock sales, whet consumers’ appetites, drive footfall and generate positive word of mouth online. In tough trading conditions, such as the current COVID-19-influenced landscape, these factors are more important than ever.

To stay ahead of the curve, foodservice operators can identify which seasonal beverages consumers want and when and where they want them. Our new report, “Art of Taste: Autumn Beverage Analysis”, looks at which LTO flavours, both globally and in Europe, have been trending with consumers in fall of 2020. In this article, we examine some of the key findings from the report and interpret what they mean for foodservice brands.

A digital look at autumn LTO beverage flavour trends

Our team of local market experts analyzed almost 100 LTO beverages across Europe this autumn season. What we found was a strong performance on LTO menus from sweet-brown flavour profiles. The three flavours that came out on top were pumpkin, chocolate and cinnamon. These appeared frequently across foodservice beverage menu items in Europe.

After analyzing local markets we looked globally, using Kerry Trendspotter, Kerry’s proprietary digital research tool, to discover worldwide LTO beverage flavour trends. By quantifying thousands of online interactions, Google search data and user generated content, we distilled which flavours are generating the most buzz online during the autumn LTO season globally. Here, too, the data could be categorized into three key sweet-brown flavour LTOs which proved popular within the autumn timeframe: pumpkin lattes, maple lattes and butterscotch lattes.

bowl of ground cinnamonIn Europe, the most popular autumn beverage LTO flavours are pumpkin, chocolate and cinnamon.

These three sweet-brown lattes have massive potential for growth in local European markets. The flavours perform well in the latte platform, which has once again shown itself to be the hero platform for autumn 2020 LTOs. The key takeaway for foodservice brands is that global winning flavours can be leveraged in local markets to great effect.

Pumpkin remains the top autumn LTO flavour

Although there were variations between local and global flavour trends, we once again see pumpkin spice latte (PSL) as the leader in the autumn flavour category. This flavour is now ubiquitous in foodservice across the world and has widespread consumer acceptance and a strong position in consumers’ minds. Since its debut in Starbucks in 2003 in the USA, the PSL has continued to grow.

In 2018, Nielsen and Forbes calculated that the sales of pumpkin flavoured products were $488 million in the USA, continuing to grow every year. This trend has demonstrated itself in Europe as well, where PSLs continue to be extremely popular with consumers across foodservice menus. This season also saw innovation in the PSL category, through Starbucks UK and the launch of their new fully vegan PSL option. This capitalizes on the growing trend of plant-based milks and veganism seen across the UK. Today the Starbucks PSL product is featured in more than 50 countries and is synonymous with autumn LTOs.

Influencer propel popularity of iced beverage LTOs

It may seem counterintuitive, but iced beverages represent a huge opportunity for foodservice operators in the autumn season. Sweetened cold coffee performs well with younger consumers and can be an on-ramp for Gen Z consumers entering the coffee category. Foodservice brands across Europe have launched cold versions of consumer favourite LTO flavours, including an iced Starbucks PSL and Tim Hortons Maple & Caramel Iced Capp. While only 22% of autumn LTO launches represent cold coffee this year, this still represents a huge opportunity to appeal to a younger consumer base.

To win over younger audiences, we saw new and creative forms of marketing accelerate seasonal cold coffee LTO success with younger demographics. For example, in our report, we looked at how Dunkin’ USA collaborated with 16-year-old TikTok superstar Charli D’Amelia to create a bespoke LTO, “The Charli”, a cold brew with caramel LTO designed to appeal to a younger cohort of consumers and promoted by Charli to her 88+ million social followers. The cross-platform campaign proved to be a phenomenal success, combining an exponential growth in sales along with an all-time-high in Dunkin’ app downloads. The cold coffee and sweet caramel appeals to Gen Z consumers, many of whom may not be accustomed to hot coffee. The success of the campaign shows the power of influencers in advertising LTOs and the appeal of a cold sweet LTO flavour for a younger demographic.

Iced beverages represent a huge opportunity for foodservice operators in the autumn season.autumn-bev2020--quotes-iced-img

The landscape of LTOs is changing. While some trends are set to repeat, such as the category leading PSL, others are changing with the times, from growing and evolving flavours to the powerful draw of influencer marketing in the LTO space. Foodservice operators that want to craft beverages with widespread consumer appeal read our latest report and  access Kerry’s world-class suite of digital consumer insight tools and work with our baristas and food scientists on winning formulations by contacting us.

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