Fall is here and, after the sweltering heat of summer, people are welcoming all the season brings. Football, changing leaves and pumpkin-flavored wares are a few favorites. But let us not forget the second most-celebrated public holiday – Halloween!
In fact, a survey from the National Retail Foundation (NRF) says 171 million Americans will spend a record-breaking $8.4 billion to celebrate this year, the highest since they began gathering data 11 years ago. With October in full swing, these numbers signal that it is time to launch Halloween marketing ideas that will wow consumers. It’s time to win their business.
What businesses will capture a share of 2016 Halloween spending?
NRF’s survey tells us consumers will buy costumes (37% of total spend), candy (30%), decorations (29%) and greeting cards (4%). Discount stores, Halloween pop-ups and costume stores are likely to see the majority of traffic. Grocery stores, department stores and online retailers are right behind. But it’s important to know this doesn’t exclude other types of businesses. Craft stores, thrift stores, drug stores and even home improvement stores, among others, will also see their share of consumers. How will you entice them to buy from you?
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay says retailers are offering “a wide variety of options in costumes, decorations and candy, while being aggressive with their promotions to capture the most out of this shopping event.” But this stiff level of competition requires something special. It requires businesses to stand out and to get personal with consumers. It requires incorporating consumer events and experiential marketing.
The power of event and experiential marketing
An AdvertisingAge article gets to the heart of event and experiential marketing: “Without creating a human connection between the brand and consumer there is nothing more than a notch on a belt in the form of a meaningless engagement.” The article demonstrates how the simplest personal gesture reaches beyond the most carefully crafted advertising campaign. After all, Retail’s BIG Show taught us earlier this year that we must “create experiences that make [consumers] feel valued.” Ads and other traditional forms of marketing are hard pressed to make this happen. “Sustained engagement” is the only way to achieve loyalty.
Brands seeking to put marketing dollars where they’ll work, and where they’ll be meaningful, need event and experiential marketing. We know that “79% of US marketers generate sales using event marketing” and “74% of event attendees” have “a more positive opinion about the company, brand, product or service” after the event. What better time to get on board and sustain engagement than at Halloween, which is the essential start to the holiday shopping season.
Is your business new to experiential marketing or looking for new ways to approach your existing marketing events? Consider these five Halloween marketing ideas.[Tweet “The simplest personal gesture reaches beyond the most carefully crafted advertising campaign.”]
5 event and experiential Halloween marketing ideas
1. Get into character.
Help shoppers get into the Halloween spirit when you hire event staff to dress in character. This is an especially smart idea for costume stores. And it can even apply to clothing retailers that can demonstrate era- or celebrity-specific styles.
While regular employees assist with questions, your professional talent can welcome guests. They can also engage in selfies with shoppers who can earn a coupon when they share the image via social media. In addition, by giving shoppers the opportunity to create social media content and encouraging sharing, you are amplifying your marketing reach in one of the best ways possible – digital word of mouth. And it’s free.
2. Hold a contest.
Our society loves competition, and what better way to encourage shoppers’ participation than with Halloween fun. Costumes, pumpkin carving or painting and baking contests are a few related ideas. Rewards can include coupons, gift cards or branded items. Then, once the competition ends, entice people to stay and shop. This can be accomplished using personable and persuasive event staff and/or in-store discounts.[Tweet “Event and experiential marketing are the best ways to connect with shoppers this holiday season.”]
3. Offer them treats.
As The Atlantic states, “People love free, people love food, and thus, people love free food.” In fact, they love it so much the writer also tells, “Samples have boosted sales in some cases by as much as 2,000 percent.” So if you’re a grocery store or other food retailer, let consumers try your holiday-specific candy or Halloween-themed baked goods. Take it a step further when you let an event staffing company provide qualified individuals who can serve it up for success.
Additionally, NRF says 34% pf people plan to host or attend a Halloween party. This provides a great opportunity for home stores to do baking and other demonstrations related to Halloween party prep. Again, look to professional event staff with the skills necessary to make the sale.
4. Throw a party.
A Halloween party transcends all industries, making it a great way for any business to show love to consumers or clients. Send invites exclusively to current customers to strengthen relationships and increase loyalty. Or take to social media to invite anyone and everyone and instill event FOMO.
Party activities can include any of the above Halloween marketing ideas — costumes, food and/or contests. Entertainment may be live music, a DJ or a show. And don’t forget to continue to encourage the use of social media throughout your event. A good practice is to establish a custom hashtag you can track.
5. Scare up sales in other locations.
You may be an online retailer wanting to make personal connections. Or you may have a brick and mortar location but wish to touch consumers in another area. Two great ways to achieve either are through pop up shops or using street teams. The latter allows you to engage consumers and drive them where you want them to go, whether to your store or a URL. On the other hand, a pop up shop can result in immediate, on-site sales by temporarily utilizing an additional or more highly-trafficked location.
It’s not too late to launch one of these Halloween marketing ideas. NRF says two-thirds of Americans will make their purchases this month. Plus, any positive connection you establish with consumers now is sure to benefit you again this holiday season. Get ready to wow!
Since 1999, EPS has helped retailers, brands and others successfully execute event and experiential marketing campaigns for holidays. Contact us to discuss your Halloween marketing ideas and learn how we can work together to wow your consumers.