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Purpose, Strategy & Culture

Highly Valued Loot: Consumers are ready for Halloween—and so are we

Halloween is one of our favorite seasons at Hershey. Our consumer research shows that Halloween is growing more beloved each year. We're here to help Halloween fans make more moments of goodness this season with cherished treats.
Clark Boyer
Senior Manager, OPM Fall & Occasions 

Key Takeaways:

    • Our consumer research shows that consumers are looking forward to Halloween.
    • We're ready to make more moments of goodness this season with what we've heard called "the highly valued loot" of Reese's, Kit Kat and Hershey's.
    • Through new displays, packaging and a heavy focus on omnichannel, we're here to help Halloween fans go all in on the season.

We’ve kicked off Halloween in Hershey and we’re ready to help people celebrate one of the biggest candy seasons of the year!

As senior brand manager on the seasons team with Hershey, I couldn’t be more thrilled to watch the excitement of consumers build for this cherished time of year. After a resilient Halloween 2020, it appears people are planning to continue creative activities from last year and return to cherished traditions.

Our insights team is continually in touch with consumers to conduct surveys and track real-time insights as we strive to understand what they’re feeling and how they’re celebrating. This, in turn, gives us an opportunity to be nimble and respond to opportunities in partnership with our retailers.

Through our research, we know that 54 percent of consumers say they are planning to buy more candy this year than last year to prepare for parties and trick-or-treaters1; 22 percent say they’re planning to celebrate in a big way to make up for last year2; and we anticipate a 45 percent increase in participation in Halloween’s largest occasion, trick-or-treat.2

This all aligns with our longitudinal research, which finds that Halloween is growing more beloved every year. In this research, we’ve found that 26 percent of consumers now consider Halloween their favorite holiday.3 That's twice what it was in 2017. And 35 percent of consumers say they “look forward to Halloween all year long”—a 25 percent annual growth rate since 2017.3 We expect those numbers will keep growing. After all, what’s not to love about a holiday that revolves around fun and treats? Parents, in particular, love Halloween because of the permission it grants their kids to dream, to imagine, and to unlock their creativity in the fun and fantasy of the season.

New displays, new products, and new packaging

This year, we are all overdue for that creativity, that imagination, that fun. And as consumers’ minds start turning to Halloween in August or September, my team is here to help them go all in. We are leaning-in with even more Hershey displays and stands in retail stores, helping amplify the excitement of Halloween with consumers and to make it easier than ever to find items such as Reese’s, Kit Kat and Hershey's —three of the most beloved Halloween candies year after year. In fact, a consumer recently referred to those three treats as "the most highly valued Halloween loot," and I couldn't agree more!

We’re also focusing heavily on our omnichannel presence. 2020 was the year of online shopping and online ordering, and we expect that to continue for many. We’re making sure that when consumers are browsing online, as well as in stores, they can see the top-selling packs and products when they need them and for the occasions that they need them. Our research shows that early-season shoppers, who tend to purchase treats for themselves and family, spend almost twice as much throughout the season on candy as late-season shoppers only, who focus primarily on purchasing trick-or-treat candy.4

We’re also excited to unveil our cherished treats in new forms this year. I’m most excited about our expansion of Reese’s peanut butter pumpkins, bats, and ghosts across new packs and price points – perfect for families or friends to share. We’re also unveiling new assortment ‘Lovers’ packs that feature multiple varietal offerings within different flavor offerings. These include offerings such as Caramel Lovers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Lovers, and Kit Kat Lovers. For candy dishes and baking endeavors, we have a festive fall portfolio in packaging that celebrates the autumn season. And I would be remiss to not call out some of the treats introduced last year, like Reese’s Franken-Cup Peanut Butter Cups and Witch’s Brew Kit Kat. Consumers loved them, and I’m eager to watch as more folks discover them this year.

Embracing new traditions as we look forward towards normalcy

If there’s one thing that we learned from last year, it’s that consumers are resilient—and find new and complementary ways to celebrate the season they love. When faced with uncertain times, we saw people get creative. Instead of traditional trick-or-treating, many families baked cookies and cakes, celebrated Halloween movie marathons, decorated their houses and yards, and embarked on candy scavenger hunts. People really turned to us at Hershey, and because of that, the company had its biggest Halloween ever in 2020. In our research, consumers are telling us that many of the emerging occasions that they found in 2020 will stick around in 2021. As people embrace these new rituals and traditions, I have to say that I am fully on board with extending the Halloween season from one night to a celebration that lasts throughout the fall.

In the last year and a half, I’ve also seen how resilient my co-workers are. Together, we watched, with honor, as consumers chose, time and again, our chocolate, baking products and s’mores for comfort during an impossibly stressful time. It meant the world to us, and I’ve seen that pride shining through on our production lines, in our retail sales force stocking stores, and at every level of the company. I feel it, myself, as well. Feeling our sense of purpose of making more moments of goodness has really rallied our team.

At Halloween, we see our hard work pay off. I love this time of year. My wife and I have two kids, ages 2 and 3. Our soon to be four-year-old son loves dressing up at Halloween, filling that bucket with candy, sorting it and making it last as long as humanly possible. He didn’t get to do that last year, but we made the most of the holiday with scavenger hunts and lots of baking nights. And while our two-year-old daughter hasn’t fully experienced the magic of Halloween yet, I can only imagine the joy on her face and my son’s face as neighbors hand candy to them this year, and they discover and rediscover the magic of the holiday. I know I don’t just speak for my family when I say we’re ready to celebrate one of our favorite seasons.

1 MarketVision Post-Pandemic Behaviors and Seasons, June 2021

2 National Confectioners Association Halloween Survey, June 2021

3 Halloween Seasonal Tracker, 2020

4 The Hershey Company Consumer Insights Seasonal Tracker - Halloween 2020, November 2020