Knock knock? Who’s there? The sweetest and spookiest of all the holidays: Halloween. If you think that Halloween is all about kids, costumes, and candy… you’re wrong. It’s a serious business opportunity for brands to boost their sales and connect with consumers. So, hop on your broomsticks, and let’s delve into how brands leverage this spooky holiday to their advantage.
According to The National Retail Federation’s annual Halloween consumer survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, Halloween spending in 2023 was expected to reach a staggering $12.2 billion in the United States. In fact, Halloween is the second-largest retail holiday in the US, after Christmas. And this enchantment isn’t limited to the U.S. alone; the United Kingdom now regards it as the third most significant event on its retail holiday calendar. The allure of Halloween is spreading globally, making it a golden opportunity for brands to intensify their marketing efforts and capture attention.
Over the past decade, Halloween has undergone a remarkable transformation. It’s no longer just about sweets and treats; industries like cosmetics and apparel have experienced a significant surge in demand. This evolution highlights the vast potential for brands, regardless of their industry, to seize the Halloween season and utilize it to their advantage, even if their products don’t traditionally align with the “Halloween norm”.
Not every brand has an obvious connection to Halloween, but that doesn’t mean they can’t conjure up a successful strategy. The key is to identify which aspects of the holiday align with your products or services. Understanding what your customers desire during this eerie season is paramount.
For instance, NYX Cosmetics recognized the opportunity to align their products with Halloween’s creative spirit. They dedicated an entire webpage on their website to Halloween looks, partnering with makeup artists to create unique characters and makeup looks. They took it a step further by providing in-store services for applying Halloween makeup looks. This not only promotes their products but also offers a valuable service to their customers, fostering customer loyalty.
Credit: NYX Cosmetics
In recent years, Heinz got into the Halloween spirit with a playful twist. They transformed their ketchup into “Tomato Blood” complete with a spooky label, aiming to be a part of the full Halloween experience. To top it off, Heinz set up a pop-up store in LA where people could create costumes using this fake blood and offered a Halloween Heinz Blood costume kit. It’s a good example of a brand immersing itself in Halloween and creating a product connection that goes beyond the ordinary.
Brands are in fierce competition to claim their share of consumer spending, and two critical aspects they need to master are outshining their competitors and grabbing the consumer’s attention.
Holidays offer a prime opportunity for brands to stand out, and Halloween is no different. It serves as the ideal occasion for companies to inject creativity into their marketing campaigns, whether their goal is to spook, thrill, or amuse their target audience. Regardless of their typical offerings, Halloween empowers brands to unleash their creativity.
For instance, in 2017, Burger King playfully taunted their fast-food rival, McDonald’s, with the tagline “Come as a clown, eat as a king“. They offered their signature burger to the first 500 people dressed as creepy clowns, cleverly alluding to McDonald’s mascot. This ingenious move generated a remarkable 2.1 billion earned impressions, illustrating the potent impact of creative Halloween marketing.
Credit: Because of marketing
Credit: Hello Print
Some even introduce limited-edition Halloween products and recipes to entice consumers to partake in the spirit. Famous for their tagline “Taste the Rainbow,” Skittles embraced the Halloween spirit in 2019 with Zombie Skittles. This product offered five Halloween-themed flavors like Boogeyman Blackberry and Mummified Melon. However, the intriguing twist was that in each pack, one Skittle was the ‘rotten’ Zombie flavor, which pleasantly surprised consumers with a terrifyingly awful taste upon biting into it.
Halloween also serves as the perfect occasion for product relaunches, reviving existing products without the necessity of menu alterations or new introductions. This approach has been embraced by various food companies over the years, with even fast-food giant McDonald’s introducing a fresh perspective on their existing items through spooktacular print ads.
Credit: Because of marketing
By narrating a story, a brand can breathe life into its products or services, placing them in a memorable context and rendering them more engaging. Regardless of your product or service, storytelling remains the linchpin for consumer attention, and Halloween offers the perfect stage for spine-tingling narratives.
A great example of this is Burger King, who teamed up with Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, one of the directors of “American Horror Story,” to create a short horror film, along with Halloween-themed packaging, to promote their seasonal treats: the Ghost Pepper Whopper and Ghost Pepper Chicken Fries. By seamlessly weaving these products into a horror story, Burger King didn’t just sell a product; they offered an experience, evoked emotions, and established a connection.
Halloween is the season when ghosts come out to play, and with them come boundless opportunities for businesses to thrive throughout October. From innovative packaging design to captivating storytelling, Halloween provides a distinctive platform for establishing memorable connections with consumers and enhancing sales. In essence, Halloween is more about the “trick” in business than the “treat,” where creative marketing strategies abound.