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Optimizing Food Flavors - Pumpkin Spice All-Year Round?

Every year, the fall harvest yields tasty pumpkins used in traditional baking and the carved pumpkin has become a symbol of the autumn holidays.

In the past few years, pumpkins have spread beyond the traditional baked goods of pies, loafs and muffins and can now be tasted in just about any type of cuisine imaginable. From beverages to entrees and salads to candy and ice cream, pumpkin flavoring is enjoying its moment in the sun.

But do people really like pumpkin flavored coffees and Pumpkin Spice M&Ms? And if pumpkin is so desirable, should it be available all year round?

We polled our trusty consumer panel, and here’s what we found:

Pumpkin pie isn’t enjoyed by everybody.

I thought everybody would have tried pumpkin pie at least once in their lifetime, but that’s not the case. 19% of our respondents told us they never tried pumpkin pie, and most of them have no plans to do so. Among those who have tried it, the vast majority say they like it.

Pumpkin Spice M&Ms appeal primarily to M&M lovers

These treats, currently available only at Target stores, have been tried by 17% of our panelists, almost all of whom classify themselves as fans of M&Ms. Two-thirds of those who tried them said they liked them.

But in their first year, those M&Ms beat out pumpkin salad dressing as far as trials go

Only 14% of our panelists have tried pumpkin salad dressing, and they’re nearly evenly split on whether they like it or don’t like it. Looks like this is a product that could use some work.

Pumpkin coffee is more popular than pumpkin tea...but not by as much as you might think

36% of our panelists have tried pumpkin coffee and the vast majority of them (87%) like it. Pumpkin tea or chai has been tasted by 28% and three-fourths of them like it. Roughly the same number of panelists have no plans to try each of these in the future.

So with our enthusiasm for pumpkin running pretty high, should we be enjoying pumpkin-flavored foods in the winter, spring and summer? Not necessarily. It turns out just under one-third of consumers say they would like to enjoy pumpkin foods year round.

optimizing food flavors

But what about pumpkin-philes? Surely they would want to have pumpkin foods more often? Indeed nearly half of the 59% who like pumpkin flavored foods would like them year round.

What we don't know is how this would change their behavior. The use of a choice method, like Max-Diff, Discrete Choice or our own Bracket™ would help us understand if year round availability would lead to more pumpkin flavored purchases or simply spread out those same purchases over time (so no more holiday pumpkin flavored gluttony). And if they do purchase more pumpkin products, what are they giving up, if anything?


VP / Research Management

Michele likes to hijack TRC's online consumer panel to get relevant answers to her burning research questions. She loves asking questions relating to her favorite hobbies - TV and movies, golf, casino gambling and travel - and more often than not the answers can be generalized across industries.

Contact Michele


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Guest Saturday, 24 October 2020

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