MANCHESTER – 31st October 2014: The Halloween phenomenon, and the revenue opportunities it generates, is making the 31st October an increasingly significant date for FMCG companies. Sales of food and drink products, alongside those of costumes, decorations and other accessories, continue to grow, as Halloween increasingly makes its presence felt both in its traditional territory of North America and also in newer markets such as Europe, where the occasion is still becoming established.
The earnings potential for companies at Halloween time is huge: according to a 2013 Forbes article, quoting the National Retail Federation, Halloween has become the fourth biggest seasonal event in the US after Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving, with spending on confectionery alone predicted to reach $2.08 billion last year. Meanwhile a recent article from the Guardian highlights the surge in Halloween spend in the UK over the past 12 years – figures from Planet Retail predict a total 2014 retail boost of £330 million, up 3.5% on 2013 and a remarkable 1,733% increase on 2001.
With so much at stake, FMCG companies are mobilising their R&D resources with increasing vigour. The result is ever more creative NPD, as each producer looks to outdo its rivals with strongly differentiated product launches and novel marketing strategies.
In line with many other seasonal opportunities – and reinforced by the “trick or treat” tradition – confectionery remains the key Halloween battleground. Making direct reference to the trick or treat theme, Wrigley has released a “Tear and Scare” bag of Starburst Trick or Treat in the UK – packs contain assorted sweet and sour chews, the flavour only being revealed when the consumer bites into them. The latent growth of Halloween festivities in Germany is evidenced by the launch of ghost-shaped Waldmeister Geister from jelly sweet market leader Haribo. Meanwhile confectionery giant Arcor is expanding its Halloween range in Brazil with sour and spicy flavour Swamp Stone and Werewolf’s Nose varieties of its Plutonita Halloween chewing gum.
Elsewhere, as evidence of the growing importance of digital strategy, Kraft has unveiled a new social media campaign for its Oreo biscuit brand. In a tie-up with creative agency 360i, the company is uploading videos of ‘strange creatures’ called ‘Nomsters’ produced in the ‘Oreo Laboratorium’, with fans invited to come up with a name for each and send in their suggestions via Twitter.
Away from confectionery, even health-oriented food products are seeking to benefit from the Halloween craze, with a focus on pumpkin ingredients. Examples include I Heart Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder and Chia beverage mix from That Protein, and Halloween Hummus – with roasted pumpkin, toasted cumin seeds and smokey chipotle chilli – from Welsh producer Patchwork Pate.
Meanwhile, companies outside the food industry are also looking for their own piece of the Halloween action. Among alcoholic drinks companies, innovation-focused UK beermaker BrewDog is launching a new Pumpkin Head Ale as an accompaniment to Halloween parties or seasonal drinks, while US craft brewer Black Bottle Brewer is debuting a new special edition beer based on General Mills’ vampire-themed breakfast cereal Count Chocula.
In the non-alcoholic drinks space, Jones Soda is bringing back its Halloween-themed soft drinks, adding the new flavours Vampire Blood Orange and Zombie Caramel Apple to its existing line up. As such, it is tapping into the latest flavour fad – according to an article in Slate, Caramel Apple appears to be “the hot flavor” in US Halloween confectionery in 2014, with variations on the theme appearing in new launches from major brands including Russell Stover, Twizzlers, Wonka’s and Jolly Ranchers.
Finally, Halloween enthusiasts looking to add a seasonal touch to their health & beauty regimes also have something to cheer, as personal care companies embrace the theme with gusto. One such example is toiletry retailer Lush, which has added new bath products to its portfolio. These include the solid soap Sparkly Pumpkin, described as a “glittering jack-o-lantern”, and Northern Lights, which “slowly dissolves to unleash blue and neon green colors, turning your water into a … swirling night sky scattered with stars”.
With Halloween showing every sign of becoming a key fixture on the FMCG calendar across the globe, so finding the winning innovation formula is likely to prove an ever more significant objective for companies looking to capitalize on seasonal sales opportunities.
Image sources: Haribo / Lush / That Protein / Arcor
Additional sources: Forbes / The Guardian / Slate / FoodBev / Giro News / Food & Beverage News / The Grocer
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