Using Search data to predict rising trends

Analyzing external search data can offer forward-looking insights into rising trends and consumer reflections

Key takeaway

The team at Sentieo observed rising trends in the consumer space using external data from search, demonstrating how these insights can be used to predict timelines and spikes in major trends, and their impact on businesses across sectors in the future.

Pumpkin Spice as a flavor reached mass appeal when Starbuck’s introduced its famous Pumpkin Spice latte in the US as a limited edition product, initially in 2003. They slowly expanded to all their markets the following years.

Between August 2012 and January 2014, there were over 29,000 tweets with the hashtag “#PSL”, and in a single fall day use of the PSL hashtag exceeded 12 million. Since this time, a number of companies have caught on to the pumpkin spice craze with consumers using their arrival in stores as a mark of the autumn season.

The Pumpkin Spice Craze in 2018

Do you ever feel like Pumpkin Spice season seems to start earlier and earlier? Well, it’s true. It’s also bigger than ever — at least in Search.


We used Sentieo’s Mosaic tool to pull ten years of “pumpkin spice” search data, and it produced some clear trends. ‘Pumpkin spice season’ typically started off slowly, building up to a spike around Thanksgiving in late November (and we see the late November spikes on different days as Thanksgiving moves around).

We also see that over the last ten years, the pumpkin spice season has been starting earlier, and search volume in September/October has started to dwarf the previous peak around Thanksgiving. Last year, the pumpkin spice volume peaked in early September.

Source: Sentieo's Mosaic Tool

We are also seeing the term “pumpkin spice” appear increasingly across corporate communications: press releases, transcripts, and presentations. It appears in a range of pumpkin spice products from Dunkin, to Coca-Cola, IHOP, and even a pumpkin spice Baileys coffee liquor from Diageo.

And, of course, the 800-pound pumpkin spice gorilla is Starbucks: the company announced in a tweet that its legendary pumpkin spice latte is back on August 28th last year.


Search data and trend predictions

As we’ve seen across sectors, from the fashion industry to the financial sector, search data can be used to inform trend predictions, like the rise of #pumpkinspice, and can be reinforced in combination with news and social data.

Having this information and an idea of how long these trends will last, where they’re most popular and what the sentiment is around them, can help any organization looking to capitalize on that trend to better predict inventory and product development, shape messaging strategy, understand where there are gaps in the market and more. Thus, search has become a valuable tool in forming more forward-looking strategic decisions.

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