Spooky to think it’s already that time of year. Moving ahead of valentine’s day Halloween has become the third largest holiday for retailers, behind Christmas and Easter. To put the growth into perspective the £12 million spend in 2001 increased to roughly £310 million in 2016 (Mintel), but what’s the reason for the growth?
A clear draw to Halloween, much like any holiday, is the pause from stressful lives. Whether you’re painting yourself green or dressing your cat in a cape, Halloween is an escape, an exciting one at that. Another opportunity Halloween brings is the ability to embrace the ordinarily supressed childlike desires, urges within the person to do things they perhaps morally shouldn’t and usually wouldn’t. When you have a mask on, playing another role, it feels more acceptable to act on these instincts, so we swap our workday wear for more outrageous, playful Halloween costumes.
According to online giants eBay, more than 2 million searches were made for ‘Halloween Costume’ last year between September and October. Clearly the retail opportunity during the Halloween season is frightfully good providing the perfect opportunity for brands and retailers to be as weird and creative as they like.
A Trick or A Treat?
Releasing limited edition product range is one method retailers and brands apply to win sales throughout the year. The public get excited about the reintroduction of limited available products only offered seasonally. Would they be as excited if they could get it any time? It’s unlikely. The knowledge of a limited-edition item motivates people into buying what they perhaps wouldn’t normally.
Halloween creates a scarcity effect, seeming from the supply side as the retailer deliberately controls the supply of the product, intentionally creating retail situations which force the consumer to acknowledge the goods displayed are scarce. When the believe of scarcity is successfully installed instore, retailers and brands can instil a psychological pressure to buy into the shopper.
There are two ways scarcity can be marketed. Limited editions are the classic example of limited-time scarcity. As retailers establish a date upon which the item won’t be available anymore, shoppers are fearful they will miss out if they don’t quickly take advantage of the promotion. Shoppers online are often subject the second, limited-quantity scarcity. As more products are sold, the scarcity of said products increase, creating shopper uncertainty. When low stock availability is shown online, shoppers are practically competing against one another. Achieving ownership of such scarce items can create a feeling of pride, almost like they’ve won a bargain, what’s more they feel they’ve succeeded over their fellow shoppers.
A holiday which previously focused on children, Halloween isn’t just for kids anymore. Whether you partake by buying and handing out sweets, watching scary films, carving a pumpkin or dressing up, the interest in the event is higher than ever with sales of food, drink, décor, fashion, and beauty all profiting. Though not exclusively responsible for tempting shoppers, strategically promoted limited offers create shopper urgency and influence buying behaviour.