Purpose, Strategy & Culture

Halloween is more than Trick-or-Treating: Consumers look to an early start and increased safety measures

Alex Corcoran
Senior Director, Occasions and Partnership Marketing

Halloween is more than a day. It's an entire season—loved by more than 180 million Americans annually.1 Halloween celebrates fun and fantasy over a 10-week season, both in and out of the home and with family, friends and neighbors. While Halloween celebrations may look different this year, our team is confident that consumer interest and participation in the seasons will remain strong. COVID-19 will undoubtedly cause shifts in how we celebrate, with an earlier start to the season, more geographic differences, in-home activities and interest in new, and safer ways to celebrate more social occasions.

These shifts call for a broader range of individual treats, candy assortments, baking and snacking across trusted core brands and will require agility to execute programming and messaging to ensure we help people celebrate the season in safe, relevant and meaningful ways.

The following highlights a few reasons we are confident that Halloween 2020while celebrated differentlywill be a success with our retail partners and Halloween lovers across the U.S.

Consumers Still Want to Celebrate All Season Long

Our consumer research shows people are planning to celebrate and are looking forward Halloween as a sense of normalcy, even if that means more at-home activities. In fact, 74 percent of millennial moms believe Halloween is more important than ever2 and over 50 percent of people state they are willing to participate in new and safe ways.3

Early to mid-season occasions have always been celebrated in the home (candy dish, crafting, decorating, baking). These early-season celebrations have made up 50 percent of the Halloween candy spend in the past and could grow this year. Interestingly, the same early season behaviors and candy assortment and snack size purchases are consistent with current at-home pandemic behaviors, signaling success of Hershey’s top seasonal brands for early to mid-season sales.

Later in the season, the holiday becomes more social with parties and Trick or Treat. 58 percent of people say they are likely to hand out candy during Trick or Treat this year, down only slightly from 64 percent prior to COVID-19.2 But for these consumers, safety is paramount, with over a third intending to wear masks and gloves while following safe social distancing practices. We will make sure we support and promote the health and safety guidelines of our national health experts as more information is shared.

We also understand over 50 percent of people are willing to try new and safe ways to celebrate. This presents an opportunity to co-create new, safe occasions with Halloween lovers; from hosting scavenger hunts and providing candy care packages, to reverse Trick-or-Treating.

Supply Chain Preparation & Agility Ensures Brands are on Shelf

Hershey is the Halloween Market share leader with the top line of Chocolate Assortments and three of the top five leading brands in Halloween—Hershey’s, Reese’s and Kit Kat. Since the pandemic began, these top brands have grown more than 12 percent, giving valuable momentum heading into Halloween. Despite increased safety precautions and challenges of the pandemic, Hershey has remained committed to service excellence for our retail partners. To date, Hershey has already shipped 15 percent of our Halloween volume to partners with a 99.6 percent case fill. And with our Halloween product already in stores, our best-in-class retail team will be in force over the next 100 days ensuring shelves remain stocked and merchandising in place to meet consumers’ needs throughout the season.

Digital Learnings Pave the Way

Online shopping is expected to increase for Halloween candy, decorations and costumes with more than 20 percent of shoppers expected to use curb-side pick-up and home delivery options. In response, we are increasing our digital media spend by 160 percent and integrating these efforts across shopper, brand and digital channels, with an emphasis on delivering content closer to online purchase opportunities.

With digital channels playing an even greater role in how people are making purchases for Halloween, we’ve made it a priority to ensure all products have eye-catching imagery making them stand out as consumers look for all their Halloween essentials. We also know convenience is a must, so we are working with retailers to feature our Halloween candy with affinity categories like costumes and home decorating for less searching and clicking.

Seasonal Innovation

While seasons are steeped in traditions, we know that seasonal innovations are also important to bring excitement. In fact, 58 percent of 2019 Halloween consumers tried something new during the season and 21 percent tried new candy.4 Earlier this month, we kick-started our celebrations with four limited-edition products from our top three Halloween brands: Reese’s Franken-Cup Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kat Witch’s Brew, Hershey’s Kisses Vampire Chocolates and Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme Fangs. These spooky new treats are already making a splash in the market and the media.

Whether continuing timeless traditions, like snacking with a scary movie and baking seasonal treats, or beginning new ones with your neighbors, we are committed to continue to do everything we can to make seasonal moments special and memorable for families and communities.

1 National Retail Federation, 2019 Halloween Spend Survey

2 NCA Harris Poll: Halloween 2020 Phase-1

3 COVID-19 Halloween Consumer Sentiment Tracking Directions Company Apr 2020

4 Hershey 2019 Halloween Tracker