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Feel those temperatures dip? It means pumpkin spice season is here.
The flavor trend has taken fall by storm in recent years, moving from fad to fixture of post-Labor Day menus. It’s proving to have considerable staying power, branching out from the famed lattes that launched a thousand memes to Cup of Noodles and Oreos.
Another sign of its durability is that the fall flavoring trend is crossing generational lines. A Friday product launch offers evidence.
Gen Z favorite Chamberlain Coffee is debuting Sneaky Bat, a pumpkin flavored blend. Available only through the brand’s direct-to-consumer website, the organic coffee blend combines pumpkin spice with “creamy notes of cinnamon and cocoa,” according to a description from the brand. Available in single serve, whole bean and ground bags, it retails for $16.
Along with the launch, Chamberlain Coffee is planning to further develop the character of Sneaky Bat, which will serve as a nod to fall and Halloween.
\u201cintroducing our new sneaky bat pumpkin spice blend! this pumpkin-flavored blend is the ultimate seasonal favorite, featuring creamy notes of cinnamon & cocoa. try it now before it\u2019s gone \n\nhttps://t.co/CBPt0rx94X\u201d— chamberlain coffee (@chamberlain coffee) 1663344962
This is just the latest splash from Chamberlain Coffee, which was founded in 2019 by YouTube star Emma Chamberlain.
Chamberlain built up a massive following on YouTube, with a channel that currently boasts 11.8 million subscribers. Coffee is a frequent topic of her vlogs, whether it’s sharing recipes, trying coffee shops or singing the praises of LA favorite Philz Coffee.
About a year into her YouTube foray, the then-17-year-old Chamberlain took an early step into commerce by launching merch that was tied to her persona in 2018. Launched the next year, the coffee brand was a leap ahead. She took a type of product that was featured in content, and spun up her own brand around it. The product was not about Chamberlain herself, but one of the everyday topics that was the focus of her videos. Drawing a direct line between virality and brand, it launched with a video that was an update to a previous post about a favorite coffee recipe.
MY COFFEE RECIPEwww.youtube.com
Plenty of influencers build a business by promoting products from other brands. By contrast, Chamberlain extended her own brand to the product. The opportunity presented by this convergence of content and commerce is a big reason why creators are shaping the next wave of the digital economy.
Chamberlain Coffee isn’t built on YouTube tie-ins alone, though. In recent years, the brand has been growing by using the same strategies and tactics that are being embraced by a generation of CPG brands that has grown by taking a digital-first approach to commerce.
With Gen Z paying just as much attention to how a product is made as how it tastes, the brand has centered messaging that the coffee is roasted in California and sustainably sourced, telling consumers that “you can feel good about the coffee you’re sipping on.”
As Chamberlain’s knack for building a following extended to coffee, new SKUs were added. The brand has expanded its coffee line not only by adding blends, but also introducing single-serve bags and instant sticks. It has also added lifestyle products like branded merchandise to custom coffee accessories.
Collabs have been a key avenue for broadening reach. There was a coffee and sweats popup with Levi’s, a coffee-flavored breakfast mashup with OffLimits Cereal, and a creamer collection with Nutpods. It most recently teamed with zero-sugar sweet tea brand Swoon to create a Matcha Lemonade.
\u201cwell that was fun. thanks to everyone who came by our chamberlain coffee x @Taste_Swoon pop up this weekend.\u201d— chamberlain coffee (@chamberlain coffee) 1658785119
The brand has also added to the retail channels where it is available, growing from a DTC store to Amazon and a recent expansion into LA grocery store Erewhon, national grocer Sprouts and instant delivery service Gopuff.
Chamberlain Coffee recently took another big step for growth by raising a $7 million Series A round, led by Blazar Capital, Ole & Steen / Lagkagehuset cofounders Ole Kristoffersen and Steen Skallebaek, GRIN founder Brandon Brown, DTC luminary Nik Sharma and beverage industry expert Ken Sadowsky.
Social-driven growth has helped it grow a cult following, and now it is looking to reach the masses.
“In deeply understanding their audience, the brand has been able to lean heavily on social engagement to create a unique connection with new customers and fans with each story and post, a strategy that has been a key driver for the brand's heightened success,” a press release announcing this deal stated. “This funding round will help the brand expand into new channels, and develop new and innovative products to further its mission of being an innovator in the beverage space.”
Friday’s drop is the latest sign of how this expansion will play out. The pumpkin spice flavor’s launch shows that it is using limited edition releases to drive demand, and is leaning into seasonal trends embraced by brands and retailers everywhere. It follows quickly on the heels of additional new flavors, Witty Fox Hazelnut and Fluffy Lamb Vanilla. Meanwhile, plans for the Sneaky Bat character shows that steps are being taken so the brand is taking on a further identity of its own.
Come to think of it, that could be a bridge to content of its own.
Trending in Brand News
Campbell Soup Company CEO Mark Clouse offered thoughts on messaging amid inflationary shifts in consumer behavior.
After months of elevated inflation and interest rate hikes that have the potential to cool demand, consumers are showing more signs of shifting behavior.
It’s showing up in retail sales data, but there’s also evidence in the observations of the brands responsible for grocery store staples.
The latest example came this week from Campbell Soup Company. CEO Mark Clouse told analysts that the consumer continues to be “resilient” despite continued price increases on food, but found that “consumers are beginning to feel that pressure” as time goes on.
This shows up in the categories they are buying. Overall, Clouse said Campbell sees a shift toward shelf-stable items, and away from more expensive prepared foods.
There is also change in when they make purchases. People are buying more at the beginning of the month. That’s because they are stretching paychecks as long as possible.
These shifts change how the company is communicating with consumers.
Clouse said the changes in behavior are an opportunity to “focus on value within our messaging without necessarily having to chase pricing all the way down.”
“No question that it's important that we protect affordability and that we make that relevant in the categories that we're in," Clouse said. "But I also think there's a lot of ways to frame value in different ways, right?”
A meal cooked with condensed soup may be cheaper than picking up a frozen item or ordering out. Consumers just need a reminder. Even within Campbell’s own portfolio, the company can elevate brands that have more value now, even if they may not always get the limelight.
The open question is whether the shift in behavior will begin to show up in the results of the companies that have raised prices. Campbell’s overall net sales grew 5% for the quarter ended April 30, while gross profit margins held steady around 30%. But the category-level results were more uneven. U.S. soup sales declined 11%, though the company said that was owed to comparisons with the quarter when supply chains reopened a year ago and expressed confidence that the category is seeing a longer-term resurgence as more people cook at home following the pandemic. Snacks, which includes Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm, were up 12% And while net sales increased overall, the amount of products people are buying is declining. Volumes were down 7%.
These are trends happening across the grocery store. Campbell is continuing to compete. It is leading with iconic brands, and a host of different ways to consume them. It is following that up with innovation that makes the products stand out. Then, it is driving home messaging that shows consumers how to fit the products into their lives, and even their tightening spending plans.
Campbell Soup is more than 150 years old, and has seen plenty of difficult economic environments. It is also a different business today, and will continue to evolve. At the end of the day, continued execution is what’s required.
“If it's good food, people are going to buy it, especially if it's a great value,” Clouse said.