Halloween: How brands can harness a unique opportunity to engage audiences

The Drum 11 Oct 2019 10:34
Social platforms offer the perfect balance of visual forms of inspiration and product discovery

From the rising popularity of pumpkin-carving to Mexican Day of The Dead-inspired costumes, the UK is embracing Halloween like never before.

Around half of British shoppers spent money on celebrating Halloween last year, according to a Mintel Seasonal Shopping report, and we are all getting into the spirit of things, too. Facebook IQ data from 2018 shows top word pairs over the period included Happy Halloween and Halloween outfit.

We love the opportunity to get creative with costumes and themed food and drink but, as with all key holidays now, the fun must not compromise our environmental values.

Social scares up Halloween creativity

Dressing up is at the very heart of Halloween and spending on costumes grows year on year. According to online data portal Statista, Brits spent £166m on clothing over Halloween in 2017, up from £148m in 2014. Last year, adults expected to spend £12.90 on their costume, and £11.90 on outfits for each of their kids.

Character costumes from TV, film and game franchises are predicted to be more popular this year. Memes, fan groups and visual content on social provide a rich vein of inspirations, while dynamic content and video tutorials help those looking to get those finer details right.

Marketer Takeaways

• Social platforms offer the perfect balance of visual forms of inspiration and product discovery.

• Instagram and Facebook Live make-up tutorials are a great way to engage people with Halloween conversations

A parenting treat

Gift-giving does not define Halloween. Instead, it is a more experiential holiday, and that offers parents the chance to act like kids themselves with dressing up and Halloween-inspired meals.

Food and drink sales accounted for 12% of the total Halloween spend and reached £86m in 2018. Of course, that includes sweets and chocolate, but the major supermarkets are also creating more adventurous treats. Think BBQ ‘slime’ based pizzas and translucent zombie brain cakes.

Marketer Takeaways

• Parents are keen to create engaging and immersive experiences so highlight new ideas of home decoration and Halloween party products.

• Trick or treating has a broad appeal for parents and children so brands should find innovative ways to work these traditions into marketing.

Carving a sustainable Halloween

While Mintel estimates that £14m was spent on pumpkins in the UK in 2018, four in ten of us think that carving them encourages food waste.

Social media channels are a useful source of inspiration through recipes, videos and other content on ideas about what to do with the waste. Meanwhile, there is also a plethora of creative and craft community groups on Facebook, offering tips for more sustainable costumes.

While 43% of British shoppers already seek out costumes that can be reused, says Mintel, there is a definite shift to homemade and DIY outfits. According to, nearly a third of adults intend to make their costume in the future.

Consumers are looking for ways to be sustainable both before and after Halloween.

• Instant Experiences is a more immersive Facebook ad format for showcasing sustainable content, such as pumpkin recipes.

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