Halloween Season Amplifies Consumers’ Impulse to Buy

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Ghosts, ghouls, and sky-high candy prices are shaking up consumers this month. 

The cost of Halloween sweets will rise 34% compared to last year, according to data from PayPal, but that isn’t stopping retailers and brands from doing what they can to influence which products consumers purchase.

Higher prices have shoppers reconsidering the candy brands they normally purchase, creating an opportunity for retailers to influence buying decisions and forcing CPG brands to compete against cheaper alternatives.

New research from the location-based audio out-of-home advertising firm Vibenomics shows 53% of consumers are looking for ways to save when shopping for Halloween candy this year. Twenty-one percent of shoppers say they plan to reconsider the candy brands they normally purchase.

Just 16% of shoppers say they will purchase their Halloween candy online. The vast majority (68%) say their candy purchases will be made at grocery stores, and 46% say they’ll do their shopping at big box stores.

That preference for purchasing Halloween candy in-store rather than online is something retailers should pounce on, says Vibenomics Chief Strategy Officer Paul Brenner. Brenner believes retailers and brands should be finding ways to capitalize on the time consumers are spending shopping for Halloween goods inside physical stores — an increasing rarity in today’s digital-first world. 

“Online spending has decreased, while in-store foot traffic and basket size have increased,” Brenner says. “The majority of customers prefer to shop in-person in order to look for ways to save, making shoppers especially receptive to in-store promotions.”

Data backs up Brenner’s assertion. According to the Vibenomics survey, nearly three-quarters of consumers (74%) say in-store promotions are most likely to influence their decisions to purchase specific Halloween candy brands, followed by coupons (64%) and recommendations (22%).

“In-store promotions are essential during Halloween because they meet shoppers at multiple touch points along the customer journey, including at the point of purchase,” Brenner says. “No other marketing channel will be as close to the nucleus of Halloween shopping, nor is any channel as effective at capitalizing on impulse shopping patterns.”

While candy is not representative of the entire retail market, Brenner says the effectiveness of in-store promotions in this single sector demonstrates the value for a broader market.

“While candy is historically an impulse purchase, the Halloween season amplifies consumers’ impulsive in-store purchasing,” Brenner says.

Surging candy prices have some brands adjusting the message and medium of their ads this month. Brenner says brands are doing more to acknowledge inflation and recession fears that shoppers are experiencing, knowing they need to incentivize customer loyalty if they want to compete against cheaper alternatives.

“Inflation does not affect the ability to buy candy as much as routine purchases like meat or batteries,” Brenner says. “However, retailers and brands will still implement strategies to encourage candy purchases, such as digital coupons or value pack options.”

Perhaps more than any other month, October is when retailers and brands should focus on using advertising to cut through the noise and drive impulse buying. Brenner says brands should consider the entire context of a purchase and then look to make targeted investments.

Vibenomics’ survey data shows that consumers want to buy their preferred brands, but they also want to remain conscientious of their budgets. In-store promotions that remain mindful of this year’s shopping trends and demonstrate a recognition of customers’ needs along multiple touchpoints will yield the most consistent ROI.

“Advertisers don’t have to wait until someone is in the right aisle to engage with them. The customer doesn’t need to be anywhere near the seasonal candy section but the message can help guide them there,” Brenner says. “In-store audio reaches shoppers throughout the entire retail environment, touching on the most critical points in the shopper journey.”

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.