How to Market Halloween - Retail, Digital and Social Media Tips
Double, double toil and trouble;. Fire burn and cash tills bubble. When did Halloween become such a marketing winner? All Hallows’ Eve has transformed from a celebration of a Western Christian feast into a month long, supermarket filled, if-you-like-it-then-you-shoulda-put-a-pumpkin-on-it, plastic fantastic, gore inducing, celebrity-backed, social-media-screaming, business juggernaut which looks like it will start to rival Christmas for seasonal activity (It is the biggest retail event after Christmas and Easter).
Consumer spending on Halloween continues to rise annually, no doubt thanks to our own Instagram one-upmanship with an increasing need to top last year's haunted house Halloween decorations with a whole new set from Amazon, and reached £320 million in the UK alone, says Mintel - see the article here. Celebrities are leading the way with their Hallo-stagram, just look at Heidi Klum’s break the internet style ensembles including Michael Jackson in Thriller, Jessica Rabbit and Cleopatra, plus don’t forget Jason Derula’s Knight King from last year which has created a 4,350% surge in searches for his Game of Thrones themed costume this year - read more on the Tab.
Happy Halloween!!! 🖤💀🎃👻🕷 pic.twitter.com/VoUHubPeL3
— Heidi Klum (@heidiklum) November 1, 2017
— Capital (@CapitalOfficial) October 23, 2017
In marketing, we look to ride trends and newsjack our way into the headlines, so as Pinterest searches for Halloween exceed more than 300 million pins, let’s look at the ways in which Halloween can be added seamlessly to your marketing calendar.
Know the Tradition
Traditionally (I mean, really, who has time for this bit - lols) Halloween is the start of a three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead - Wikipedia knows it all if you want to delve in here
Why bother - PR reasons
Brands should be careful underestimating the power of Halloween. When I worked at nursery retailer Mamas & Papas, we routinely struggled to get our babywear into consumer press. The one year we dressed three cute babies sat side by side dressed as a witch, a pumpkin and a skeleton, we received the biggest hike in coverage with features in national newspapers including The Times and Daily Express. By creating products or stories which are based on seasonal trends, you are increasing chances of being featured in the press, or having your brand seen online and social media. For example - if you’re a bar and you can create and photograph a Halloween themed cocktail - and you do it 6 months before Halloween, it will probably be the most lucrative PR things you do all year!
Why bother - retail reasons
With Halloween falling on a Wednesday this year, retailers were expecting to see a double spike in footfall, with a smaller increase in shopper traffic hitting the weekend before Halloween - see article here. Adults are getting in on the action too (in 2016 saw Sainsbury’s reporting a 150% increase in adult costumes) and people love a one-stop-shop so big Supermarkets are really cashing in - take a look at Asda’s Saatchi & Saatchi produced effort on YouTube if you don’t believe me!
Also very like Christmas, you may look to create a ‘Halloween’ section in store or with a separate landing page. Retailers can also look at creating products which they already sell but can be repackaged to hit that spooky market.
So how do I get involved? Planning!
It goes without saying that the more lead time the better with season activities so think of your yearly plan all year round. Bespoke products often take a long time to make or maybe you need to purchase licenses to use names or images, so give yourself as long as possible.
You will need:
A product/experience or service for Halloween
A Halloween press release ready to roll in May time
Cut out images and lifestyle images to sell your products (all high res and professional)
A press list of consumer media
Influencers you want to target with your Halloween ideas
A digital marketing calendar which kicks off in October
Make it Topical
Ah yes, the million dollar question - what will be the ‘thing’ this year. For example, remember that year when it was all about Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad? This year we’re looking at a wonderful mixing pot of costumes and if you are lucky, you can make headlines by being creative. Top spot goes to Urban Outfitters for their Kim Kardashian inspired ‘Influencer Outfit’ which has gathered headlines on the Independent. Teen Vogue and Huffington Post.
— The Independent (@Independent) September 29, 2018
Pick a theme
Trends will vary from year to year so it is important to keep up with the kids. Sure you can bust out your old skeleton outfit, but jumping onto the coolest film or iconic star will be even better! Top costumes or themes this year according to Pinterest include Tonya Harding (who has seen +720%), Netflix series Riverdale where you could be a Southside Serpent or a Riverdale High Cheerleader (+316%) and 90s icons (+110%). Couples can jump on board with Harry and Meghan trends by utilising the Royal Wedding or even recent baby news (+733%), see article here. My top pick would probs be Game of Thrones (topical with the final series airing early next year) or Love Island...but perhaps only if you have a body to die for!
Marketing to Millennials
These days, Halloween is less about the dead and more about OMG DEAD, where the Love Island generation seek to create content for their digital lives with costumes, filters, makeup and decorations all perfected to be snapped, shared, with the Instagram grid literally becoming a digital tombstone. How scary non? Millennials are looking for costumes, props and makeup which are extra AF so consider the quality of photography you use to relay your Halloween products or experiences. Social media marketing is a MUST so max out your digital channels and make sure you’re telling a story.
Top Halloween Products
Millennials are the biggest at Halloween spenders - on costumes and last minute impulse buys like candles, sweets, chocolates and decorations. Meaning if you are a brand aimed at the young folk, they have cash to spend at this time so you’d better think of a way of working it into your calendar. For the food and drinks industry, this is a key time to look at themed products, collaborations or special Halloween packaging to target this generation.
Makeup has also gone from being run of the mill ‘Vampire-esque white face and pair of fangs from Claire’s Accessories, to being big business. A top class Halloween hair and makeup effort can turn an influencer into a star. Just think of Holly Willoughby’s insane unicorn horn and outfit last year.
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If you have a retail space or bar/cafe, you might want to look at decorating your external shopfront to entice Instagram friendly customers. Take Peggy Porschen for example with their candy coloured pumpkins on their pink parlour for Halloween.
View this post on Instagram
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OK so in summary - accept the opportunity of seasonality and see where it can fit for your brand. Plan ahead and be creative with products. Use trends to create amazing stories. Use creative resources to put together supreme Halloween content.
And finallly...anyone know where i can get an invite to Heidi Klum or Jonathan Ross’ epic Halloween bashes? Speaking of parties - you can read my guide to throwing a Halloween Party here.