Published 27 October 2021

Author
Matt Zara

A barometer for festive consumption and a high-spending season in its own right, the desire to reignite IRL (in real life) revelry is predicted to smash sales records for Halloween and Día de Muertos ($10.14bn, up 25% on 2020). Key trends include movie nostalgia, countering throwaway culture, direct-to-consumer rebrands, mixed-reality ‘scare-scapes’, and gaming-centred engagement.

Horror Moves: New Releases & Remixed Nostalgia

Monetising Mixed Realities: A(R)pparations

FMCG Goes DTC: Spectacle vs. Support

Countering Seasonal Throwaway Culture

Championing Cross-Cultural Celebrations

Galvanising Gaming Fandoms

Trading on the appetite for shared cultural references (see New-Era Nostalgia: Visual Trends, publishing November 9, and Nostalgia Remixed in Creative Content: Fandom Fills the Gap) while building hype around new releases, horror movie/TV show activations offer pulling power. Highlights include Amazon Prime Video’s hybrid pop-up, and Snap’s Halloween filter.

Trading on the appetite for shared cultural references (see New-Era Nostalgia: Visual Trends, publishing November 9, and Nostalgia Remixed in Creative Content: Fandom Fills the Gap) while building hype around new releases, horror movie/TV show activations offer pulling power. Highlights include Amazon Prime Video’s hybrid pop-up, and Snap’s Halloween filter.

Summary

Horror Moves: New Releases & Remixed Nostalgia

Trading on the appetite for shared cultural references (see New-Era Nostalgia: Visual Trends, publishing November 9, and Nostalgia Remixed in Creative Content: Fandom Fills the Gap) while building hype around new releases, horror movie/TV show activations offer pulling power. Highlights include Amazon Prime Video’s hybrid pop-up, and Snap’s Halloween filter.

Monetising Mixed Realities: A(R)pparations

Mixed-reality technologies increase both immersion and conversion – products with augmented reality (AR) try-out boast 94% higher conversion (Deloitte x Snap, 2021). From nudging pet owners to add IRL equivalents of AR costumes to their baskets, to multiplayer virtual reality (VR) experiences primed for mall developers, brands conjured up blended ‘phygital’ (physical meets digital) initiatives.

FMCG Goes DTC: Spectacle vs. Support

FMCG giants including Heinz and Hershey’s have used Halloween to go direct-to-consumer. At one end of the spectrum, they’re allying themselves with all-out revelry via tongue-in-cheek rebrands (Heinz’s Tomato Blood ketchup has sold out online). At the other, they’re catering to consumers still cautious about socialising – see Reese’s x Nextdoor.

Countering Seasonal Throwaway Culture

Wary of the seasonal waste inherent in single-use costumes and decorations, shrewd brands from grocery to crafting are challenging throwaway culture by promoting eco-savvy alternatives. From ethically made costumes to DIY tutorials, expect this sentiment to extend into the festive season, as charted in Christmas 2021: Brand Engagement Steers.

Championing Cross-Cultural Celebrations

While Halloween and Día de Muertos celebrations differ, their histories are intertwined. Astute brands are paying homage to the Mexican holiday – hugely significant in the US, where 11.3% of consumers are of Mexican origin (United States Census Bureau, 2019) – with culturally sensitive campaigns, including Target’s video series which follows individuals observing holiday traditions.

Galvanising Gaming Fandoms

Building on the rise of gaming as a mainstream preoccupation, Canadian beauty giant Mac Cosmetics chose to embrace its cosplay roots this Halloween, recreating famed video-game characters in partnership with Microsoft’s Xbox. Meanwhile, mega-game Fortnite has produced month-long programming and in-game skins to populate its Halloween-themed metaverse-esque world, dubbed ‘Fortnitemares’.

Halloween 2021: Retail & Media Trends & Tactics

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