Before Trick-or-Treating, candy did not play a vital role in the observance of Halloween. Instead, it was the one night of the year when communities tolerated pranks and mischief.
In the 1910s and 1920s, candy makers were looking to increase fall sales, but didn’t see the potential in Halloween marketing. The biggest candy holidays at that time were Christmas and Easter followed by George Washington’s birthday, an occasion to eat marzipan cherries and cocoa-dusted logs. It wasn’t until the 1950s that candy was associated with Halloween after Trick-or-treating became popular.
With Halloween just around the corner and today, October 28, being the biggest day for candy sales of the year according to Nielson Research, candy companies are ready to see their marketing efforts pay off. For months, these companies have been developing strategies in regards to wrapping, commercials, slogans, and anything else that would convince buyers to choose their candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters.
Examples of the trickiest tactics and delicious treats are:
- Hershey, the category leader with a 43.3 percent market share, releases special Halloween products only available during this time of the year. An example of this would be their Cadbury Screme Egg, the scary twist on their popular Easter treat, the Creme Egg. It features a green oozing center. Also, Hershey uses seasonal packaging that focuses less on Halloween and more on the fall season. This is their method to prevent price slashing on their products starting November 1, the day all Halloween candy prices become heavily reduced.
- Peeps finds strength in selling recipes and craft projects, accounting for about 30 percent of their sales. An example of one of their crafts is a project that uses frosting like grout to join marshmallow ghosts and cats to form a candy bowl. The end of that recipe then suggests filling the bowl with the autumn colored Mike and Ikes, another candy made by the same company.
- Mars released a trick-or-treating themed commercial in 2012 promoting Snickers. The commercial shows a big head on a tiny body, claiming to be the horseless headsman. One of the trick-or-treaters standing before him hands him a Snickers
and tells him that “you get confused when you’re hungry,” playing off of their “you’re not you when you’re hungry” slogan. The horseless headsman then turns into the headless horseman, scaring the trick-or-treaters away.
There are even non-candy brands that are trying to boost their sales by incorporating Halloween themed marketing. Jell-O offers a brain mold that suggests using peach gelatin over strawberry gelatin to portray a brain with oozing blood.
Quaker Chewy Granola Bars get a whole new look for Halloween. The bars have pieces of candy in them and the box even markets them as “great for trick-or-treating.” Although most kids turn away from non-candy products when trick-or-treating, the scary packaging intrigues them to add it to their collection of treats.
While it seems as though candy companies don’t need to worry about sales during the Halloween season, it’s actually the opposite. They must set themselves apart from the rest, making both parents want to buy their candy for the trick-or-treaters and kids choose their candy when trick-or-treating.
Emily Brensinger | Bravo Group | Wayne Intern