A beloved holiday of both children and adults alike, Halloween is a candy-fueled scare-fest that millions of consumers look forward to every year. And for many brands, it’s an event that absolutely rakes in revenue.
In 2021, the National Retail Federation found that planned Halloween expenditure in the US was $3.3 billion for costumes, $3.2 billion for decorations, $3 billion for candy, and $7 million for greeting cards. Whatsmore, just last year 65% of US consumers planned to celebrate Halloween — that’s 214,175,000 potential customers for brands to attract in the US alone.
And it’s not just the US that celebrates Halloween — the holiday is also popular in the UK, Ireland (where it originated), Mexico, Italy, Portugal, and more. As the years have gone by, more and more countries around the world have begun to celebrate. In 2021, retail expenditure on Halloween products was estimated to be £607 million in the UK.
Keep in mind, you don’t need to be a costume or candy brand to get in on the Halloween fun. If there’s a way that makes sense for your brand to join in, you can and should run a Halloween campaign, as it’s a great way to connect with consumers and add a bit of fun to your marketing strategy.
So, let’s take a quick look at the history of Halloween, as well as touch on three tips brands can take on board when planning their Halloween marketing campaigns in 2022.
A Short History of Halloween
Being the most widely celebrated in the US, you wouldn’t be remiss in thinking Halloween was a holiday with North American origins. However, you’d be wrong.
According to Joshua J. Mark’s article for World History, Halloween’s origins go way back:
“Countries around the world today celebrate Halloween in one form or another, from Mexico's Day of the Dead to China's Tomb Sweeping Day. The modern-day observance of Halloween in countries such as the United States and Canada – where this tradition is most popular – share in this ancient tradition, even though some aspects of the holiday are relatively recent developments, and can be traced back to the Celtic festival of Samhain.”
For those unfamiliar with Samhain, it’s the Celtic New Year’s festival and it translates to “summer’s end”. Traditionally, it marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. In his article, Mark explains that:
“The Celts believed that the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead were thinnest at this time and so the dead could return and walk where they had before. Further, those who had died in the past year and who, for one reason or another, had not yet moved on, would do so at this time and could interact with the living.”
Over time, the pagan traditions of Samhain were Christianized and the holiday was transformed into All Hallow’s Eve. And in the 8th century, Pope Gregory III moved All Saint’s Day to November 1st — meaning All Hallow’s Eve now fell on October 31st.
Today, people all over the world celebrate Halloween by carving pumpkins, trick or treating, and visiting scary, “haunted” houses. It’s an exciting, enjoyable holiday with a rich history — and, in the words of Mark, some things haven’t changed as much as one might expect:
“At its most basic level, Halloween is – or can be – a triumph of hope over fear; which is most likely what it also meant to the ancient Celts at Samhain thousands of years ago.”
What Kinds of Brands Excel At Halloween Campaigns?
To be fair, some industries and brands will find it easier than others to roll out successful Halloween campaigns. A few come to mind immediately — candy brands, costume and party stores, or greeting card companies, for instance. They all boast a natural fit into the Halloween season.
However, other brands have been quite successful in finding creative ways to join in on the Halloween fun. Just consider the following examples:
Pet Care: Chewy has found a successful niche in pet costumes
Apparel: Social commerce brand Fashion Nova branched out into Halloween costumes a few years ago and has been very successful
Home Decor: Arts and crafts brand Michaels rolls out its Halloween decoration line each year to much success, while Etsy seller W. Francis Design offers a pillow perfect for spooky season
Clearly, plenty of regular brands have found creative ways to cash in on Halloween and celebrate in style. And other brands would be smart to follow their lead and find innovative ways that they, too, could take advantage of the Halloween season.
3 Tips To Nail Halloween Marketing in 2022
Crafting the perfect Halloween campaign will look a bit different for each brand. But there are some general tips that are important for all brand managers to keep in mind this holiday season.
1. Lean Into the Fun of the Holiday
Often, holiday ads for Christmas or New Year's are serious things that are meant to pull at your heartstrings and make you shed a tear. They play into consumers’ emotional sides — and are often quite successful because of it.
But that approach won’t really work for a wacky, spooky holiday such as Halloween. The whole idea behind the modern celebration is to dress up, go a bit wild, and have fun — and you’d be smart to create a marketing campaign that leans into this fact.
Whether you decide to release a limited edition, Halloween-themed product, offer a special Halloween discount, or throw a Halloween event — don’t be afraid to have a little fun. Make your campaign creatives colorful and your brand messaging punny, and your customers will love it.
Pro Tip: When creating your Halloween campaign, it’s important to keep your target audience in mind. It goes without saying that a brand geared towards children wouldn’t create a truly scary Halloween product or campaign.
But brands that target adults and want to go the scary route should take a deep dive into what their customers' likes and dislikes are. Remember, while some consumers may be disappointed that a brand’s Halloween campaign isn’t scary enough, you’d be taking a much bigger risk by making it too scary.
2. Don’t Forget About Your Existing Customers
With big holiday campaigns, there’s often a great deal of focus placed on winning over new customers. After all, the lead-up to holidays is a time when more consumers than usual are looking to spend money and a flashy campaign may be a good way to reel them in.
However, while acquiring new customers is great, it’s an expensive endeavor — especially when compared to how much less expensive it is to advertise to your existing client base.
According to research, the probability of selling to a new customer is 5-20%, while the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%. Furthermore, existing customers are “50% more likely to try new products and 31% spend more, when compared to new customers.”
Clearly, it makes sense to devote a good portion of your Halloween campaign resources towards activating existing customers with special promotions, discounts, and limited edition products or services. A great way to do this is via email marketing, which allows brands to speak directly to their customers and build stronger relationships.
A fun holiday such as Halloween is a great opportunity for brands to offer up content, discounts, or products that provide their customers with value — whether that be entertainment value or a high-value item at a discounted price.
3. Get Spooky on Social Media
Another great way to capture consumer attention and celebrate Halloween is to create a fun, spooky social media campaign that highlights your brand’s special holiday products, offers, or events.
Modern consumers want to be entertained — and with so many options available, it’s hard for brands to keep their attention and build loyalty. An effective way to connect with consumers is to create an engaging, appealing social media presence — one that grabs their attention and inspires them to interact.
Exciting Halloween graphics, music, and content are a great way to showcase your brand’s fun side and connect with consumers. It’s also a great opportunity to set up brand partnerships, host giveaways, and drum up user-generated content.
For example, if creating Halloween-themed products or services isn’t a natural fit for your brand, consider partnering with a brand that does have a natural fit to set up a contest or giveaway. You’ll not only increase your audience reach, but you’ll also increase interest in your brand. It’s a win-win.
Halloween presents brands with an opportunity to connect with consumers, provide valuable content and products, and show their target audiences their fun-loving, humanized side.
While not every brand can or should celebrate the holiday with a Halloween-themed campaign, product, or event — brands from all industries can join in on the fun if they’re willing to get creative and put in the effort.
We wish you the best of luck with your 2022 Halloween campaign — be it silly, spooky, or downright terrifying.