In terms of popularity and consumer spending, the period surrounding the Oct. 31 festivities now outstrips other holidays including Easter and Thanksgiving. Marketers are pushing Halloween with a fervor traditionally reserved for Christmas, virtually skipping over Labor Day and introducing products into stores even before the official end of summer.
The traditional Halloween merchandise market (including candy/mints, beer, soda and snacks) is worth $2.4 billion, according to Information Resources Inc. But other marketers are finding opportunities, too. Ad spending for major Halloween products totaled nearly $157 million from Sept. 1 through Nov. 1, 1994, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Traditional Halloween marketers like greeting card companies are keenly
aware of the increased interest.
"Fifty percent of Americans will decorate for Halloween this year while
the number is 80% for Christmas," said Steve Beall, a product manager at American Greetings.
Hallmark Cards, tracking the phenomenal growth of Halloween with
customer surveys, has found that in 1989, one in four adults bought
costumes for themselves, while in 1990 that figure jumped to one in three.
And in '90, Halloween became the third most popular adult party occasion, behind New Year's Eve and the Super Bowl.
Hallmark has identified Halloween as the eighth largest card giving
occasion, with 28.5 million cards expected to be sent this season, a
company spokesman said.
Watts Wacker saw the rise of Halloween coming three years ago. The
resident futurist for SRI International, Westport, Conn., predicted at the
time that Halloween would turn out to be the second biggest holiday in the country.
"Arguably, I think it is now," Mr. Wacker says today. He believes
Halloween has overtaken Easter because of modern America's penchant for
all things more casual and less institutional.
"Americans live from occasion to occasion," he said. "We like to have
fun. Our society is becoming more casual, so non-institutional and non-religious holidays like Halloween are perfect for us. We are creating holidays as a way to enjoy ourselves more often throughout the year. And Halloween is an intergenerational holiday that can be celebrated by both
young and old. It appeals to everyone."
Mr. Wacker said marketers didn't create the surge in Halloween
festivities but rather seized upon society's desire for casual fun
involving both children and adults.
Jo-Ann Fabrics is one marketer that has been paying more attention to Halloween. The chain began offering Halloween makeup and accessories seven years ago. When the products really started to sell, Jo-Ann added home and party decorations and ready-to-wear costumes.
Barb Semen, VP-marketing for Jo-Ann parent Fabri-Centers of America,
said direct marketing comprises "the bulk of the company's ad budget." However, Jo-Ann started running radio spots last Halloween. And this year
the company replaced radio ads with spots on local and cable TV in
Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit and Washington.
The ads, created in-house in conjunction with Liggett-Stashower,
Cleveland, started running Oct. 1 and will continue through Oct. 21. Two
print ads ran in USA Weekend and Parade on Oct. 8.
Some venerable brands are joining in the Halloween hoopla. Kellogg Co.
this month is marketing Halloween Rice Krispies. The cereal comes in a mix
of jack-o'-lantern orange, moonlight yellow and its usual white color; packaging features three Halloween recipes.
Kellogg is backing the cereal with advertising as well as consumer and
trade promotions. Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, is agency of record.
At rival General Mills, the vampire-inspired Count Chocula "is hot
during Halloween but then levels off for the rest of the year," said
Barry Wegener, public relations manager.
The company heavily promotes the brand during the Halloween season, this
year with a new TV spot from Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York, that began running early last month and will air through the end of October. Halloween packaging features 3-D images with glasses included in the box.
The glasses can also be used to view the commercial.
After breakfast comes soda pop and beer.
Pepsi-Cola Co. is sponsoring the Haunted Happenings museum festival in
Salem, Mass. The festival had no sponsors last year, but this yea