A marketer’s guide to Halloween

Embrace the spookiest season of the year with these trends, statistics and ideas.

The spookiest holiday of the year is almost upon us.

This year, 171 million Americans plan to partake in the festivities. It might seem as if the holiday is strictly reserved for companies that sell costumes, candy and party décor, but any marketers can get a taste of the Halloween candy haul.

Consumers are looking to have fun, show off their silly side and beat everyone when it comes to costumes, parties and pumpkin-carving skills.

Money spent on Halloween, according the NRF, will hit an all-time high at $8.4 billion—a $1.5 billion increase over the previous year. Breaking it down equates to $82.93 per average U.S. customer, up from $74.34 last year.

With money spent on Halloween increasing, brand managers must be equally aggressive in capturing the spooky hearts of partygoers who are looking for creative ways to get in on the holiday.

This year, 71 percent of consumers are handing out candy for Halloween, 49 percent are decorating, 47 percent plan to don costumes, 34 percent are throwing parties, 30 percent are trick-or-treating, 21 percent plan to visit a haunted house and 16 are dressing up their pets.

Four categories dominate Halloween revenues. Roughly $3.1 billion is spent on costumes, $2.5 billion on candy, $2.4 billion on decorations and $390 million on greeting cards.

Luckily, most of these activities can be creatively showcased online. In preparing for the holiday, many consumers look online for inspiration, with 17 percent using Pinterest for costume inspiration—up 133 percent since 2012.

Consumers also turn their mobile devices—72 percent of smartphone shoppers research an item before purchasing it in-store, meaning that even if you have a brick-and-mortar location, online marketing is still important for discovery and brand awareness.

Consumers imitate what they see online, too: A whopping 40 percent said they’ve purchased items online after seeing it used by an influential Instagram, Twitter, Vine or Youtube user.

What if your organization or client doesn’t sell Halloween stuff?

Good news: It doesn’t matter. People want to get more creative than ever this time of year, so “hack” the holiday by inspiring consumers in unique and amusing ways.

Check out this post on “hacking the hoodie.” It was the most popular costume idea for kids across all of Pinterest’s Halloween pins in 2015, and involved taking a basic hooded sweatshirt and turning it into several different costumes.

For more Halloween marketing insights, check out the infographic from The Shelf below:

Sabrina Fenster is the marketing manager for The Shelf.

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