I’m not sure we’ve ever needed Halloween more than we need it now. After months filled with stress and unknowns, aren’t we all looking for a little normalcy, tradition and a reason to have fun? A recent poll, conducted on behalf of the National Confectioners Association, revealed that 74 percent of Millennial moms and young parents say that Halloween is more important than ever this year, and as a mom, myself, I agree with them. I know that Halloween in 2020 may be a bit masked(!), but underneath, it’s the same-old, fun-filled holiday.
One thing that will always be a part of Halloween, of course, is candy, including chocolate. This year, Halloween displays appeared in stores earlier than usual, likely because back-to-school sections were smaller in many places. The excitement of Halloween, along with the fact that chocolate has been a reliable sweet escape and way of treating ourselves during the pandemic, led to a strong start to the season. We’ve seen an increase in single bars and packs of all sizes, with standard bars, medium-sized assortments and snack size packages, in particular, driving early season results.
While Halloween celebrations will look different for communities across the country, our Consumer Insights team, has stayed close to consumer intentions for the holiday. According to latest results from our weekly survey, 28 percent of consumers are starting to think about Halloween, which is up from 12 percent from mid-August. 45 percent of respondents plan to hand out candy to Trick-or-Treaters, and 33 percent have already purchased Halloween candy.
That same survey reveals that many families are looking forward to home-based celebrations this year, and they’re getting excited about finding fun, creative, safe activities for the kids that go hand-in-hand with candy, like Hershey's, Reese’s and KIT KAT, which have come to be as much a part of Halloween as ghosts and goblins over the years. Some of the more popular plans include watching a Halloween-themed movie (with a candy bowl front-and-center), decorating the house (with Halloween snacks to fuel the fun), Halloween-themed baking projects (made more special with snack-size bars and Kisses as embellishments) and hosting small, outdoor gatherings. As friends and neighbors come together to celebrate, those gatherings are the perfect occasion for S’mores buffets, complete with special seasonal treats, like Hershey’s Milk Chocolate with glow-in-the-dark wrappers and Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Crème Fangs.
We also expect some families to embrace the most hallowed of Halloween traditions: trick-or-treating. To help ensure that kids stay healthy and safe, Hershey has partnered with the Halloween & Costume Association to present the Halloween Safety Guidelines for the 2020 season, which are aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's social distancing guidelines and includes advice for trick-or-treaters, homeowners and parents. A color-coded COVID risk level map, provided by the Harvard Global Health Institute, allows users to search for their county and find appropriate guidelines and ideas for a safe (and still fun!) Halloween. Halloween2020.org also includes a Safe House pledge and printable sign so parents know which houses in the neighborhood are following social distancing guidelines.
Seeing consumers get excited about Halloween after such a challenging year makes me proud to work for a company like Hershey. I think back to a few months ago, in the thick of the pandemic, when we were faced with an important decision. It was time to start producing our Halloween candy and packaging. We had no idea what lay ahead, but we knew this: People were going to need Halloween this year, and we wanted to be there for them to make these special moments possible. Our company has always made our purpose, to make moments of goodness, a priority, and that carries us through tough times.
As a mom, I, too, am excited for Halloween. My husband also works for Hershey, so we always feel the pressure to make Halloween special for our kids, ages 11 and 13, and our neighbors. I admit that I’m not a particularly crafty or creative mom, so I’m especially grateful to be surrounded by colleagues and consumers who are, and I’m taking notes. One idea that I love is planning a chocolate scavenger hunt in the house or backyard, lined by a trail of glow sticks.
As I write this, I can feel the excitement build. The idea of carving pumpkins, buying costumes, roasting marshmallows for s’mores and watching the kids be kids makes me nostalgic for old times. Halloween has always been about fantasy, escape and plenty of treats, and this year, I know, we’re all ready for that. I’m excited that Hershey plays an important role, and we’ll be there as consumers come together to treat themselves and their families on this beloved holiday and its many variations of celebrating this year.
 Site-X Pulse Survey week of 10/06