Don’t Carve Out My Latte

When the Autumn months approach, coffee enthusiasts have one single beverage on their minds: the Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbuck’s.  Recently, various Starbucks locations have been experiencing shortages of the specialty latte.  The shortage has caused irritation with numerous customers who are absolutely infatuated with the drink.

The shortage arose because the individual Starbucks stores are running out of the special powder that is used to make the drinks.  According to the Starbucks headquarters, there is no shortage of the actual powder; the problem stems from infrequent deliveries to various locations.   Baristas at some locations have commented that on numerous occasions, customers have left the stores without purchasing anything solely because they could not have their pumpkin spice latte.

While I personally have no interest in Pumpkin Spice Latte, I find it interesting that an article solely based on the seasonal drink found its way into the Wall Street Journal.  I considered the various topics we have covered in class and saw some parallels between the problems Starbucks is experiencing with the subject of forecasting.

Because the Pumpkin Spice Latte is only a seasonal product, I imagine it would be difficult for Starbucks to forecast the demand for their Latte by the public.  The only information they would have is from the previous year’s latte sales.  While this could be somewhat effective in making a forecast,  there are other numerous factors that would prevent them from making an effective.

I can only speculate, but I imagine that social media has played a large role in the increased demand for the Pumpkin Spice Latte. I have personally seen numerous posts on my Twitter and Facebook news feeds dedicated to the “love” for the latte.  I assume that most people can attest to that.

Individual Starbucks rely on the supply from the national headquarters, and if they have to turn down customers due to a shortage, they are losing money.  The difficulty in forecasting for the pumpkin spice latte is having a direct effect on Starbucks locations all over the country and frustrating shop owners and customers alike.

5 thoughts on “Don’t Carve Out My Latte

  1. This is extremely interesting because I’m a huge fan of the Pumpkin Spice Latte and its actually the only time of year i go to Starbucks. I can definitely see how this is a problem for Starbucks though because forecasting seasonal items can be difficult. I also can see Starbucks using a naive forecast which could work but with the added attention that things like facebook and twitter which add sales that they didn’t account for. All in all i hope this problem doesn’t become frequent at any of my local Starbucks because when the Pumpkin Spice Latte is out i can’t resist going there.

  2. As the above comment agrees, I too found this topic interesting. I have yet to try the Pumpkin Spice Latte but I know a quite a few people that are obsessed with the seasonal drink. I was unaware that there are some Starbucks that had to turn down some customers because they did not have enough of the drink available. This relates exactly to what we learned in class about forecasting. I would think that the general managers at those Starbucks that ran short would have forecasted their sales a lot better than they did. While I know this is a seasonal drink, I would have looked at the previous years sales as well as the marketing done for the drink last year compared to the marketing done for the drink this year. With social media taking over and advertisements constantly being seen, I would think all those factors would have helped with the forecasting of the drink. It was because of the poor forecasting that those Starbucks ran out of the drink and in turn lost sales as well as probably customers. It’s always disappointing to go to a specific store to buy something and be turned away because the store ran out of stock.

  3. As an avid coffee drinker and fan of Starbucks competitor Dunkin Donuts I find this article very interest. I have many friends who love this time of year when starbucks rolls out their fall and winter drink line-ups. But Starbucks needs to watch out for their competitors like Caribou and Dunkin who are beginning to catch on to the demand for these speciality drinks. With the shortage of ingredients being sent to Starbucks for these drinks many customers may decide to take their business else where in order to assure they get their seasonal flavor fix. Every individual has their own preference when it comes to where they buy their coffee from but constantly being told they can’t make your favorite drink may lead to a higher number of lost customers for Starbucks. Starbucks could have forecasted the need to ingredients better by looking at how big of a demand they had for the drink last year at this time. With so many people globally being Starbucks fans these problems may cause serious changes in how many customers choose Starbucks over one of their other coffee competitors offering various seasonal drinks. Starbucks is always going to have their loyal customer pool but with raising prices and the inaccurate demand for high demand ingredients this may cause some of the loyalty to shift else where.

  4. I agree with the author’s post about how Starbucks should have forecasted better. However, being a Starbucks drinker, I also know that most deliveries do not make it on time to the stores. There have been plenty of times that I have gone in for a drink and was unable to get it because of shortages in inventory. This would be a red flag for a company in terms of not being able to satisfy a customer’s needs. However, Starbucks has cemented their name in society over the years as the “go to place” for a caffeine fix. I don’t think Dunkin Donuts or Caribou coffee would have much of an advantage in making these specialty drinks for disgruntled Starbucks customers because, frankly, the quality of coffee in these establishments is lacking. In regards to the comment about the increase in prices and decrease in demand, I always have been a believer in “you get what you pay for.” The quality from Starbucks is unmatched by other coffee shops and I highly doubt that will ever change. Very thoughtful post and informational. I think it opened up a valid forum for discussion.

  5. I definitely see the point that forecasting the Pumpkin Spice Latte power is very importance for Starbucks. It does seem very hard to forecast it since it is a specialty. I am actually Starbucks’s hot chocolate fan too, and I could imagine if I went to Starbucks and they says it ran out. So it is very crucial for them to use forecasting in order to prevent the customer dissatisfaction.

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