In the past, I’ve written about the rise and fall of pumpkin spice as the reigning autumn flavor. I like to check in on it annually, around September. It’s part of my Fall 2021 SEO check in. This year, pumpkin spice appears to be on track for a similar performance to 2020 — slightly lower than the flavor trend’s peak in 2014-2015.
Comparing Fall Flavors — August 2021
Data from Google Trends
This year, I decided to explore and compare popular fall flavors. My list is a bit arbitrary but, I decided to include:
- Maple (and maple donut)
- Pumpkin Spice
The results were surprising.
How Google Trends Works
To summarize, Google Trends is a free data exploration tool. Marketers use it to understand audience interests in real time. It often signals customer behavior by showing a shift in interests by topic over time.
Essentially, Google’s search engine collects trillions of searches every day. They anonymize the data and group searches based on general query topic or the specific keywords. You have to be careful when comparing data because it’s not a direct one-to-one comparison like you would get with AdWords. However, it can show telling trends in topics or keywords over time.
Year-round, maple dominates searches as a search term. Obviously, a lot of concepts are wrapped up in that search term that extends beyond the flavor.
Similarly, cinnamon has been growing in interest both as the search term and as the spice.
Hazelnut is also growing in popularity as a search term.
Similarly, cinnamon roll and maple donut are also growing in popularity.
So, I decided to pit these terms against each other.
However, it appeared that these were not a fair comparison. Maple is so much higher than the others and some of the related search queries didn’t refer to food. So, I added “flavor” to each of the terms.
Maple Flavor wins year-round but, pumpkin spice starts to pull ahead in the colder months.
Then, I added “scent” to each of the terms. The results were similar.
Again, pumpkin spice scent pulls ahead in searches when the weather starts to get cold.
I’ll be interested to see how pumpkin spice performs year over year in 2021. During this tumultuous year, it may benefit from the comfort food trend and early aughts nostalgia. During times of stress, we seek out sensations that help us relive happy memories (also seen in the awkward spike of slime-handling and paint stirring videos after the 2016 election). I’ll keep you posted as I watch the term.