Halloween 2018, the size of the pumpkin

With Halloween spending on the rise, as people look to brands for some eerie escapism, it’s all treats for retailers this October.

Halloween spending is predicted to reach $9 billion in the US this year, with more than 175 million Americans planning to participate in the festivities. (NRF, 2018) That’s over half the population dipping into their pockets for some spooky spending. And this pumpkin is only getting bigger, as the holiday has grown in popularity in the UK too. Spending is forecast to reach £419 million this year, a 5 per cent increase on 2017. (Mintel 2018)

So what do the numbers mean? As the popularity of Halloween spreads, October is becoming the start of the big spend, the first stop on the calendar before Black Friday and Christmas. This year, solely seasonal brands are benefitting from the closure of big box retailers like Toys R Us with many hosting Halloween costume pop ups in the vacated retail locations. And it’s not just for kids. Another factor at play is the surge of Millennials spending on Halloween. Brands from Costcutter to Jägermeister are targeting their campaigns at an older demographic with an emphasis on alcohol related discounts and activities.
But above all, as the fancy-dress rituals of Halloween illustrate, escapism is key. People are looking for magic in the everyday, for the opportunity to be someone else and do something out of the ordinary. With the likes of Louis Vuitton’s Wizard of Oz inspired retail pop up, and hit Netflix series Stranger Things and The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell, we are seeing increased enthusiasm for elements of magic and the Gothic throughout popular culture.

And of course, with the tradition of haunted houses and ghost trains the appeal of magic lends itself perfectly to Halloween. This year alone, we have Skittles’ moving ‘trick or treat’ house in Canada, Fanta’s touring twisted carnival experience in the UK, Google’s haunted house in Japan and Instagram sensation Nightmare Machine in the US. The holiday is increasingly a global celebration and not one to be underestimated by brands.

Brands have the opportunity to become the enablers and facilitators of escapism at Halloween, with next level experience retail. The key is telling a consistent story through every touchpoint, from the smallest service gestures to one-of-a-kind wow moments, to truly immerse guests.

The important thing to remember, is that while Halloween gives people the opportunity to put on a new face and become something they are not, brands need to stay true to their own identity. A be-witching brand experience still needs to come from a place of authenticity and if done right, those are the experiences that will truly cast a spell on customers.

Images courtesy of Unsplash.

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