halloween ecommerce marketing tips

Make way, Thanksgiving weekend and the winter holidays — there’s a new member to the high-rollers’ club. According to new evidence, Halloween spending in 2017 reached a new record high, $9.1 billion. That’s up from the $8.4 billion of the year before, and about half of the total sales from Thanksgiving weekend 2017, $19.62 billion. For online retailers, it’s a new and largely underutilized opportunity for you ecommerce marketing strategy.

In this article, we’ll go over the figures revealed by the new study, as well as 3 ways ecommerce professionals can take advantage of them to their fullest.

 

Halloween by the Numbers

So how can we prepare for Halloween 2018? Before we get into the specific trends, let’s look at the big picture.

The 8% rise in Halloween spending between 2016 and 2017 reflects more than just expected increases from inflation. For one thing, consumer confidence has reached its highest level in 18 years, since October 2000. The economy is doing well, and festivities tend to bring in sales in any climate.

Another factor is the growing market of millennials. Shopping trends of millennials show the group is more willing to spend on experiences than things. For an event like Halloween, a millennial might spend more on a costume for one night than piece of daily attire with no sentimental value.

If we break down the actual statistics (keep in mind, this survey only looked at Americans), here’s what we find:

  • The average person celebrating Halloween spends $86.13.
  • 179 million Americans reported celebrating in 2017, another record high.
  • 70.6% of Americans handed out candy, spending about $25 each.
  • The average person spent $30 on Halloween decorations.
  • More than half of Americans bought costumes.
  • For the average amount spent on costumes, men ($96) spent more than women ($77).
  • 16% of people also dressed up their pets.

 

For online retailers there’s even more good news. This study factored in total sales, not just online sales. With the steady growth of ecommerce, we can predict that, in the next few years, online retailers will claim more and more of the Halloween market — especially given the holiday’s inclination to niche markets, the specialty of ecommerce.

 

3 Ecommerce Tips for Halloween

What use is Halloween to retailers who don’t sell costumes or candy, right? As these new findings show, there’s money to be made for any online retailer willing to branch out.

Here are 3 ways you too can take advantage of the Halloween shopping spree.

 

1. Capitalize on Columbus Day

Just like Thanksgiving kicks off the Christmas shopping season, the “Halloween shopping season” can draw a lot on the momentum starting on Columbus Day. Statistically, this holiday has been one of the largest sales days of the year. Since it lands about two or three weeks before Halloween day, it’s the perfect to time to hit your Halloween campaigns hard to ramp up for the big day.

According to the National Retail Federation, Halloween sales are strongest the first two weeks of October. Here’s a breakdown of when people do most of their Halloween shopping:

  • Before September — 6.4%
  • During September — 29.9%
  • First two weeks of October — 43.6%
  • Last two weeks of October — 20.1%

Columbus day lands right in the middle of the peak period at the first half of October. (In the U.S., Columbus day falls on the second Monday of the month, October 8 in 2018.) Start promotions in September to accommodate the third of people who are early shoppers, ramp everything up to a climax during Columbus day, and then keeps things going until Halloween day to accommodate late shoppers.

 

2. Broaden Your Product Range for October

Depending on your brand, it might be worth expanding your product range to include Halloween items, at least temporarily.

Costumes are one of the most obvious choices. But rather than stocking up on merchandise you can’t unload between November and September of next year, it’s better to choose only best sellers and order only a conservative amount. Here’s what NRF cited for the most popular costumes in 2017:

Children:

  • Superhero (Batman and Spiderman above others)
  • Princess
  • Animal
  • Star Wars Characters

Adults:

  • Witch
  • Superhero (Batman-related characters dominate)
  • Animals
  • Pirate

Pets:

  • Pumpkin
  • Hot dog
  • Lion
  • Pirate
  • Bumble Bee
  • Devil

 

Keep in mind, costume picks are heavily influenced by trends, so whatever popular movies came out in the last year will likely disrupt this list.

Even if you don’t want to branch out into seasonal goods, you can always promote your everyday items that are also Halloween-related: party supplies.

A lot of people either host or attend parties for Halloween, so goods like party foods, alcohol, disposable cups, etc., are inherently Halloween-themed. If you have nothing else more directly related to the holiday, put these items front and center for your promotions.

 

3. Entice More Sales with Candy

It sounds bad to say “lure them in with candy,” but from a business point of view, it’s not a bad strategy. In the Halloween season, more people buy candy than costumes (even though costumes cost more and so make up more of the total).

The best part about offering candy is that it’s not a hard product to branch out into. Candy is appropriate for most industries as a secondary item, especially during October.

Aside from just selling wholesale bags of candy, you could also incorporate them into your promotions. “Buy 2 items and get a free bag of Tootsie Rolls.” Since bags of candy are something most people need anyone, this adds strategic incentive for customers to shop at your store. Here are a few other kitting and bundling ideas to increase your sales.

 

Takeaway

By the time you’re reading this, some people have already started their Halloween shopping. September is an important month to prepare for Q4, and now that includes Halloween alongside Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all the December shopping days.

If you take nothing else away from this new information, you should remember to treat Halloween with the same care and dedication as the other holidays in this heightened shopping season.

 

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