Halloween Consumer Spending and Marketing Trends

by Wesley Farnam - Oct 29, 2014

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans are set to spend $7.4 billion on costumes, decorations, candy and more this Halloween. NRF’s 2014 Halloween Consumer Spending Survey reveals some interesting facts about Halloween spending and its relationship with internet marketing and social media. For instance, most Americans will look for costume inspiration online (34.2 percent) versus in a retail store or costume shop (33 percent).

Pinterest is also growing source of inspiration this year. The survey found 11.4 percent of Americans will turn to Pinterest for costume ideas, up from 9.3 percent last year. Young adults will drive the most Pinterest traffic: 21.2 percent of 18-24 year olds will turn to the popular social media site for ideas, as will 21.0 percent of 25-34 year olds.

"Social media is becoming an essential tool for consumers to plan their Halloween activities," said Adam Frazier, senior content writer with The Idea People. "Browsing social media platforms like Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube help users find fun costume and decor ideas, as well as local attractions like haunted houses, pumpkin patches and corn mazes."

A Little Halloween History

Halloween, also known as All Hallows' Eve, is derived from the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain. Pre-dating Christianity, the Celtic holiday was celebrated on the one night between autumn and winter when the barrier between the living and the dead was thinnest, and often involved rituals that included lighting enormous bonfires and wearing costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.

The word Halloween (or Hallowe'en) dates back to 1745 and is of Christian origin. Meaning "hallowed evening" or "holy evening," it comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows' Eve (the evening before All Hallows' Day). Over time, Halloween has evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities.

The tradition of carving jack-o'-lanterns  originated in Ireland and comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack, where faces were carved into large turnips and potatoes. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities.

The American Halloween ritual of “trick-or-treating” dates back to All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food and money.

Halloween Today & The Season's Best Ads

Today, Halloween is less about ghosts and goblins and more about consumerism. Party-goers will spend $2.8 billion on costumes alone this year: $1.1 billion on children’s costumes, $1.4 billion on adult costumes and $350 million on costumes for pets! Companies see Halloween as a major opportunity for creative advertising that not only promotes their products and services but also connects with celebrants of the holiday. Below is a sampling of some of the season's best examples of creative marketing trends:

Trulia held a haunted open house—inviting people in to see a property that was rigged to mimic paranormal activity.

Ford pranks drivers by turning a car wash into a haunted house.

Geico creates a funny parody of horror movie characters who make predictably poor decisions.

Shopping will never be the same after you watch IKEA’s homage to Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic, The Shining.

Skittles gives arachnophobes the creeps with a new ad featuring a giant, talking spider and his trick-or-treating pals.

Happy Halloween from The Idea People!

The Idea People, Charlotte's leading web design and content marketing company, wishes you a safe and happy Halloween! If your business needs creative ideas that connect with consumers, contact Jay Joyce with The Idea People at jay@theideapeople.com or call 704-398-4437.

Wesley Farnam
The Idea PeopleThe Idea People