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Experiential Brand Identity Brand Strategy

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

By Caroline Parry, Journalist

October 11, 2019 | 6 min read

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

Facebook brand strategy

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

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.

Don’t expect traditional witches and vampires; however, as social media channels inspire us to think bigger. One in four British shoppers think these traditional costumes are a thing of the past, says research by website

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.

Halloween sales of cosmetics have also exploded increasing from £63m in 2017 to £86m last year, according to Mintel. Consumers are prepared to invest in creating realistic or extreme looks, so it is no surprise that Instagram racked up for the highest proportion of Halloween posts with a 28.2% share (Linkfluence).

Marketer Takeaways

Shoppers are actively looking for inspirational Halloween ideas and products:

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

• Help shoppers to find out how to recreate their favourite characters or pop culture figures via relevant product surfacing.

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

• Provide make-up inspiration and tips and tricks via those platforms to build brand awareness and product affiliation

A parenting treat

Gen Y parents have themselves grown up celebrating Halloween; and many like to use Halloween as an opportunity to create something special at home. One in five of us of now decorate our home and garden for Halloween, according to Mintel.

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.

A massive 85% of parents with children aged five to 11 intend to spend on celebrating, says Mintel. This will be almost entirely product-led with food and drink playing a significant role.

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.

It is a holiday that chimes with Dad too. Last year saw dads with children ages under 16 years old spend almost £100 more than mums on Halloween celebrations, says the Mintel data.

Marketer Takeaways

Social channels are the first port-of-call for Halloween tips for the whole family, so help inspire them to create unique and memorable experiences.

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

• Formats such as Carousel Ads are ideal for visual inspiration sharing and spreading these messages to a broader audience

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

• Encourage mobile-first interaction with advertising, such as Instagram ads with embedded polling stickers to encourage people to choose trick or treat. Use the results to inform broader content and campaigns.

Carving a sustainable Halloween

Sustainability is high on the agenda for many British consumers, and this is impacting on how they are celebrating key holidays. Halloween is no different.

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.

Pumpkin is not a popular food in the UK, and half of pumpkin-carvers are throwing away leftover flesh, according to a report in The Guardian from 2018. However, it also found 52% are interested in pumpkin recipes to reduce 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.

Dressing up generates a significant amount of waste and nature charity the Fairyland Trust estimates more than 7m costumes are discarded every year.

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.

Marketer Takeaways

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

• Use Stories to share eco-conscious tips, such as how to make a costume from recycled or natural materials.

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

• Consider paid partnerships with respected publishers, creators and influencers to offer tips on how to be more sustainable. These can be boosted via branded content to reach the relevant audience.

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