Season Analysis – Hallowe’en

The market for Hallowe’en, an import from our friends across the pond, has seen exceptional growth in popularity over recent years in the UK. Hallowe’en has become a widely celebrated season, appealing to children and adults alike keen to join in on the scary fun!

So, with Hallowe’en 2015 here, I caught up with a few experts from around Marketing Sciences Unlimited to give their take on what Hallowe’en means for their sector.





Danni Findlay, Retail & Customer Experience Expert

This year Hallowe’en promises to be a super spooky affair for retailers as it falls on a Saturday, meaning that the number of adult and children’s parties is set to rise, increasing last year’s respectable sale of spooky food, trick or treat sweets and, of course, costumes.

Last year, falling on a Friday, the event took the seasonal event to third position, after Christmas and Easter, with a massive £330 million spent. When you consider this is a fairly new phenomenon inherited mainly from our colleagues in the States and that in 2001 this figure was estimated at just £12m this figure is even more staggering.

However, the super-savvy British consumer which we have written about previously, does not vanish like a vampire for this event and retailers are all too aware that the products, sold in ever more theatrical arenas in store, still have to be cheap – dirt cheap. 10p for a pair of fangs and as little as £5 for an adult outfit with mask means that we still cannot resist these bargains and are willing to buy in to the whole event despite feeling it is a bit of a gimmick.

Hopefully this year the weather will be better and won’t lead to the great pumpkin shortage which some supermarkets faced last year. With an estimated 180,000 tonnes of wastage from pumpkin whittling – all I can say is Happy Carving!




Chris Peach, Packaging Expert

Walk into pretty much any store at the moment and you can’t fail to notice that Hallowe’en isn’t far away. Increasingly brands not normally associated with witches and pumpkins are jumping on to the bandwagon, and using the occasion for short-term marketing campaigns. But is this right for the brand, and is a short term packaging change in the best interests for the brand?

At Marketing Sciences Unlimited we have a team dedicated to working with our clients to ensure that their packaging is effective – that it stands out on shelf from competitors, that it communicates their proposition and ultimately drives purchasing.

For our clients’ brands we know what elements of the packaging design their consumers use to recognise the brand on-shelf, and in the past 20 years of working in packaging I don’t recall any brand I’ve worked on where their key identifier was a pumpkin or a witch. Experience shows that it is easy for a pack change to cause an initial loss in recognition.

So is there logic in changing your packaging to include design elements that your loyal consumer doesn’t know you for? My concern is that when your existing buyer approaches the fixture there is a real risk that your promotional pack is not recognised (particularly if competitor brands are doing the same). My advice? Think how much time and money you spent perfecting your pack before you start tinkering with it for a perceived short-term ‘gain’.



Sara Spinks, Product Development & Innovation Expert

Growing up, Hallowe’en was not as it is today but it was on my radar as an event that clashed with my birthday. This had its associated pros and cons but always held excitement as I was probably appeased with an individually wrapped Spangle, Toffo or Opal Fruit.  Now, as a parent, with Hallowe’en our 3rd favourite seasonal event, this occasion raises new personal challenges but I am extremely thankful that I can just pop into a store and buy ‘Hallowe’en’.

As we assume our new characters/personas for the holiday, we rush towards anything branded ‘Hallowe’en’. It’s made easy for us and brands and retailers have risen to the challenge of using more diverse means to facilitate this journey while capitalising on impulse purchases:

  • Themed or related products are easier to find as retailers position them on store entry, promoting them from the gondola ends where they rested patiently at the end of September. Learned behaviour now means if a store doesn’t have these items immediately visible then this isn’t the store that will make the Hallowe’en shop easy.
  • Packaging (with the obvious colour associations) is the recognisable cue and appears delivered well by many. However, I fell at the first hurdle a few years ago hosting my child’s first Hallowe’en party when on throwing all the decorative Hallowe’en-themed packs away I was left with a distinctly non-spooky and under-dressed table… to my disappointment and naivety the products themselves were rarely adapted!
  • It has to be profitable for a manufacturer to deliver a ‘new product’ for such a short window of opportunity – and this is a challenge exacerbated in such a heavily promoted category. However, there are some rising to this challenge. Now I consider whether or not my target will receive the goods in or out of pack. Additionally with the consumer trend for home baking and DIY cooking showing no sign of abating there is now wealth of ‘Hallowe’en’ products to strike fear through our masterpieces  (although perhaps this is for the wrong reason in my case!)

So the key challenge for many well-loved brands has to be the novelty that we come to expect for such an occasion combined with the familiarity that tells me I will still get what I expect. Oh and all for a highly competitive cost with potentially lower margins for a shorter product run – easy!!!

We regularly help with the trade-offs necessary in product development to meet consumer expectations so please do give us a call to discuss…

However you may be spending your time on Hallowe’en, Marketing Sciences Unlimited hopes you have a spooky time! 

Halloween 2014


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Becca Allen
01962 842211
Article date - 28/10/2015
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