4 Ways to Make Halloween’s Epic Comeback Count

4 Ways to Make Halloween’s Epic Comeback Count

The spooky holiday is expected to be huge this year – and promotional products pros can take advantage.

What’s spookier than realizing that Halloween is coming up already? Being unprepared for the holiday!

Halloween this year is expected to be huge, as people are ready to celebrate and restore their pre-pandemic lifestyles. It’s a trend that began last year: Planned participation for Halloween in the U.S. rose from 58% in 2020 to 65% in 2021, according to Statista. Also last year, consumer spending on Halloween-related items was expected to reach an all-time high of $10.14 billion, up from $8.05 billion in 2020, according to the National Retail Federation.

Although this year’s projected spending and participation estimates aren’t available just yet, companies are preparing for a Halloween even more impressive than last year. Retail chain Party City has been ramping up seasonal hiring and offering more Halloween City pop-ups than in the past, expecting robust celebrations, according to CNN. And promo suppliers are planning for an uptick in Halloween spending as well.

“We realized early on that because there’s been an increase in outdoor activity this year, there was going to be an increase in people participating in Halloween, big time,” says Greg French, vice president of Brighter Promotions (asi/42016), a supplier of glow products. “Another part of it is you’ve got young kids that weren’t able to participate in it for the first time until now.”  

Top 40 supplier Bag Makers (asi/37940) is already seeing Halloween sales in 2022 surpass 2021 numbers, according to CEO Maribeth Sandford. “Our sales team is hearing a lot of excitement about resuming in-person trick-or-treating activities, trunk-or-treat events and fall festivals, and this is reflected in our order volume” she adds.

Try these four strategies to capitalize on the spooky energy this fall.

Mountain Dew collaborated with Spirit Halloween on these soft drink costumes.

At this point, what brand hasn’t Spirit Halloween, the largest Halloween specialty retailer in North America, collaborated with to make a costume? In the past, it’s created Cheetos Flamin’ Hot branded-costumes and a whole lineup of Dunkin’-inspired costumes for the entire family. The most recently announced collab adds a soft drink to the costume mix. This year, Spirit is teaming up with Mountain Dew to create a collection of limited-edition costumes inspired by four of its most popular flavors (Code Red, Baja Blast, Original and Voo-Dew Grim).

Believe it or not, consumers rave about these costumes and they sell out quick. (In 2020, the Dunkin’ costumes sold out in 24 hours, according to the companies.) Suppliers and distributors that work with notable brands that customers love, may benefit from turning them into novelty costumes or Halloween-inspired accessories. Distributors and decorators could also offer printed T-shirts and other garments that partygoers could use as they’re putting together DIY costumes.

Dressing up promo could be as simple as adding Halloween-inspired wrapping, packaging and branded messaging to products. Heinz did this when it promoted its signature ketchup as “Tomato Blood."

 Halloween isn’t Halloween without the treats, which is why food suppliers and distributors are bound to be on clients’ minds this season.

“Because of the tradition of trick-or-treating, food is naturally associated with Halloween,” says Tom Riordan, president of food gift supplier Maple Ridge Farms (asi/68680).

Employee recognition and surprise gifts for customers are the two categories that Halloween food-gift orders usually fall into, says Riordan.

Adding custom messages and spooky colors and themes can help make the food gift more festive.

“We frequently create customized gifts containing traditional Halloween candy,” says Riordan “Because we offer individual shipment directly to each recipient and will enclose a greeting card, the distributor can make the gift program extremely easy for their client.”

Other Halloween treat baskets like the “Halloween Snack Box” from Stuff A Mug (asi/89971) would be great to offer as gifts for clients and their kids, or as a Halloween office party favor.

Light-up jewelry like these neon LED necklaces (LIT41) from Brighter Promotions (asi/42016) help increase visibility and promote safety during trick-or-treating.

Trick-or-treating requires gear – beyond the perfect costume. And the promo industry is in an ideal spot to help clients out with that.

Light-up products, for example, are great for making Halloween parties livelier, but they also serve another important function: increasing visibility during nighttime trick-or-treating.

“Our biggest buyers are people who are trying to promote safety during Halloween,” says French of Brighter Promotions. “We sell a lot of glow bracelets, glow necklaces and glow sticks. “They’re usually purchased by government, police and fire departments, who give the bulk to the children in the community so that the kids can have some fun and really stay safe while trick-or-treating.”

Trick-or-treat bags, particularly of the glow-in-the-dark variety, are also very popular Halloween giveaways, Sandford notes.

“Providing trick-or-treat bags is both a goodwill gesture to local residents and a great way to increase visibility for the business,” she adds.

Schools, state parks, municipal governments, churches, real estate agents and banks are all ideal candidates for logoed trick-or-treat bags.

Companies and organizations will often hand out custom trick-or-treat bags, like this pumpkin shopper (31HFS1013) from Bag Makers (asi/37940), as a show of community goodwill.

Don’t forget to take advantage of Halloween when you’re coming up with fall marketing campaigns. Maybe this means creating a brief video that incorporates costume-wearing, or an animation that promotes your seasonal Halloween products. If a marketing video as iconic as Snicker’s “Horseless Headsman” advertisement is out of your budget, consider harnessing the power of user-generated content on social media.

Encourage social media followers to participate in Halloween-themed campaigns by adding their own images, videos and content to a customized hashtag. User-generated content during the holidays tends to be a hit because it piggybacks on the fun and joy of the season. People already want to share, so why not give them another incentive to do just that.

A few other pro-tips: Make Halloween seasonal items readily available on your website. For those items that are tangentially related to Halloween, show clients how with attention-grabbing descriptions. And lastly, update websites, newsletters and catalogs to fit the holiday’s spooky theme.

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