Candy & Costume Ecommerce for a Frightfully Good Holiday

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By Kathryn Koegel, Content Director, HookLogic

Halloween is the 2nd biggest holiday next to Christmas in the minds of children.  Times may change, but little kids love ringing doorbells dressed as the princess or super hero du jour. Americans in general love what has been called the ultimate candy holiday. What’s not to like about “fun sized’ chocolates? The holiday was once just for kids, but there is now a huge industry in adult costumes as well as those for babies and pets.

According to the National Retail Federation, Halloween has become a massive industry. The average household this year will spend $82 on everything from the candy to the costumes – and that’s an increase of $8 over last year. We decided to take a look at what HookLogic data (from the world’s largest ecommerce shopper data set: September 1 – October 15) said about trends in costumes (which reflect the power of media and toy brands) as well as candy and traditional Halloween foods for parties. Here is what we found:

  • Shopping starts early as parents are eager to lock in their kid’s preferred costume. It’s absolutely the worst if your daughter wants to be a feminist Ghostbuster and they are all sold out. On the HookLogic site, shopping research (as measured in product pageviews), peaks in mid-September. When my children were small, I began to try to get them to choose as early as August. They were willing to take the bitter pill of a return to school if I could cheerfully say: “Think of this way, Halloween is just around the corner!”
  • The search for candy and food items not surprisingly peaks later, in early October as shoppers stock up on treats to hand out, and parents look for supplies to bake spider and pumpkin cupcakes: see below: Halloween 2016_PR
  • Our data shows that the search for the word “pumpkin”, which could be so many different food-related items, peaked this year the first Saturday of October. “Cider” had a more gradual rise with spikes on the weekends.

Costumes:

  • Hot costume search terms reflect a mix of influence from media and tried and true kid inspiration. In years past, zombies and vampires lurked in the darkest imaginations, but this year, this year they are not among the walking dead.  Super heroes and princess-ish costumes dominate. “Batman” is the perennial favorite masked marvel while the inappropriately named “Deadpool” follows close behind.
  • “Disney” continues to own the imagination with the brand itself the top searched term. They successfully resurrected older princesses through merchandise some time ago, and “Cinderella,” “Ariel,” “Frozen” (Elsa), and “Alice” are the most commonly-searched heroines.
  • Disney scored a new hit with a TV show based on the progeny of Cruella de Ville, Dopey the Dwarf, The Wicked Stepmother and Maleficent, among others. Not sure whether they reveal who the fathers are (in the dwarf case, could it be Snow White?). The “Descendents” is not an Academy Award-winning Clooney movie, but the name of this band of heroes. The term is the fourth most commonly searched costume.

Candy:

  • Everyone has their favorite candy and despite all attempts to overtake it with salted caramel, super sours, gummies and red whips, “chocolate” is the top searched for generic candy term. “Marshmallow” is the next favored type. Licorice, which would have ruled from the ‘30s to the ‘50s, now comes in at #9. “Jelly beans,” the candy that define the ‘80s due to a Presidential boost, is now the 13th most researched candy type.
  • By brand, the top 3 candies are: “M&Ms,” “Hershey” and “Reeses,” longstanding brands/favorites that have reinvigorated themselves with new SKUs.
  • Fruity/Sours are up there with several chocolates as hot searches. These include super sours like “Airheads”, “Warheads” and more traditional offerings like “Lifesavers,” “Skittles” and “Twizzlers.”
  • The demand for high-end chocolates reveals that mom and dad like to have their fun as well with “Toblerone,” “Ghirardelli,” “Cadbury,” “Milka” and “Lindt” making the top 13 candies list.
  • Most interestingly, two relatively healthy offerings, “Yum Earth,” which produces organic gummies, and “Brookside,” which offers chocolate covered pomegranate seeds among other delights show up on the list. Hershey is aware of this development: they recently purchased Brookside.

Overall, the HookLogic data shows that my personal taste is no indicator of national trends. My daughter is going as a mermaid and Chewbacca, my red standard poodle named after another top costume pick, is dressing as a “pirate.” This term doesn’t make the top costume list – where did those denizens of the Caribbean go?  My favorite candy of all time, the one I seek out despite the season: “candy corn,” is not something others tend to search for.  They do look for the brand most associated with it: “Brachs.”

Have a safe and fun Halloween and make sure to brush! (Said like the mom of two kids and Halloween veteran.)

Tags: apparel, CPG, Data Science, research, Seasonal, US,