Fangtastic sales at Halloween


Halloween and Bonfire Night present a huge opportunity for retailers to grow sales across categories including sweets and drinks. Asian Trader finds out more.

Halloween and Bonfire Night has become the third biggest seasonal sales period of the year, behind Easter and Christmas, for many retailers.
In fact, Halloween is the season that has seen the greatest growth in retail sales over the last decade.
Independent retailers are ideally placed to capitalise on this growth as Halloween shoppers will be making last minute purchases such as food and drink for a party or treats for children.
Halloween is now the second biggest UK party occasion, after New Year’s Eve (Mintel). This presents a huge opportunity for retailers to drive sales between Autumn and Christmas, particularly for impulse purchases.
“Everyone is dressing up for Halloween now – not just the kids,” says Matthew Grenter, Sales Manager, Brioche Pasquier. “The annual event is becoming a day for adults to dress up too and whilst there are still plenty of ghosts, ghouls and witches, costumes are not exclusively the scary kind. As in America, now costumes can be anything from Superwoman to Elvis. The event is becoming an excuse for a good fancy dress party.”
The traditional carved pumpkin is still popular, but recently pumpkins are being painted too – don’t be surprised to see the odd pumpkin transformed into an emoji or Harry Potter.
When it comes to bonfire night, this exclusively British celebration still has a traditional feel. The bonfire, the fireworks and the hot dogs are what people expect. However, the Guy tends to change with the swing of public opinion, which means Donald Trump or Boris Johnson may be popular this year.
“Independents have the advantage of knowing their local area and customers well and so personal service is key,” Grenter adds. Are you in a local area with a lot of families? If so it will pay to get into the spirit of the occasion. Could you put a carved pumpkin or two outside the shop for the week before the event to attract customers? “Perhaps don a costume yourself on the night and offer children a treat if they come into the store with parents on Halloween,” says Grenter.
“Convenience is what shoppers are after so make sure you make suitable products easy to locate in the store,” Grenter suggests. “Try not to overcrowd the shelves and aisles with too much choice, but take time to choose stock which is likely to appeal to last minute shoppers.”
Convenience stores should be looking to provide key items that are essential to making the event a success, Grenter believes. “Let the multiples offer lots of different varieties and huge amounts of choice – the local store needs to concentrate on core seasonal products,” he says.
Consumers will often be shopping in a hurry for Halloween and Bonfire Night, says Grenter. Retailers therefore need to make it easy for customers to shop by bringing all the different components together into a display which will motivate and inspire the shopper.
A good display will bring together products from different parts of the store. Include snacks, relishes, salsas, sauces, marinades, mustards, pains au lait, crisps, soft drinks, tin foil, themed paper plates, cups and napkins, Grenter suggests. Stores can also include ideas for trick and treat and other sweet options.
“Make sure the display looks seasonal by decorating with orange and black accessories, a pumpkin, witches hat,” he says. “It’s also a good idea to make up some trick or treat buckets filled with a selection of chocolates, a packet of PITCH and some sweets – these are convenient for adults who want to have a supply ready to give to visiting children.”
A key trend identified in Heineken’s The Greenpaper was “Great with Food”. Many shoppers will be planning parties at home, so merchandising crisps and snacks alongside your range of cider and beer will see an uplift in sales as consumers make the natural link between the two.
When entertaining at home, 28% (HIM) of shoppers would like to trade up to more premium products so retailers should offer a range of premium alternatives in store such as Amstel, Birra Morretti and Old Mout to take advantage of this desire.
Although premium offerings represent an opportunity for retailers to capitalise on, mainstream beer and cider still account for 75% (Nielsen) of the category so getting the basics right key. By stocking a core range such as Strongbow Original, Strongbow Dark Fruit and Fosters retailers reduce the risk of customers going elsewhere for their favourite cider and beer.
Equally the alcohol-free category can’t be ignored for Halloween and is seeing huge growth and now worth £51m (Nielsen).
“Independents should look to stock a range that resonates with health-conscious shoppers who are make healthier choices without compromising on taste,” says Toby Lancaster, Category and Shopper Marketing Director for Heineken UK. “This is a trend that is likely to grow throughout the coming years as calorie moderation and the trend for younger drinks to limit their alcohol consumption continues.”
To cater for these changing attitudes, Heineken launched Heineken 0.0 which has quickly become the fastest growing brand in the segment.
“Shoppers in convenience will be looking for last minute purchases to celebrate Halloween and Bonfire Night,” Lancaster adds. “Local stores can easily meet these needs having the advantage of locality, readily available chilled products and a great offering of ciders, beers and snacks. Many shoppers decide in advance their intended purchase before they shop, so using social media to update them on your offering is the perfect way to inspire them to choose what you have on offer.”
Up to 64% of shoppers in convenience plan to drink cider and beer in the same day and 20% within two hours of purchase (Kantar), so having a substantial chilled section can create a real point of difference between independents and multiples. Lancaster suggests creating themed displays in store during Halloween to engage customers and promote favourite products such as Strongbow Dark Fruits.
Strongbow is the biggest cider brand in the impulse channel with 30% value share YTD (Neilsen). Strongbow Dark Fruit 4x440ml is the number 1 selling cider product in the impulse channel and in 130% growth (Neilsen). It attracts 1.4m shoppers in the off-trade alone (Nielsen).
Strongbow Dark Fruit is a must stock for convenience, and is particulary popular for seasonal celebrations such as Halloween because of its association with parties.
“Because most shoppers around the Halloween and Bonfire Night occasion will be purchasing to take to parties, the the range should be well chilled and in the correct pack size,” Lancaster says. “Small packs large single bottles are popular around Halloween and Bonfire night, being the perfect size for last minute top-up purchases before heading to parties with friends.”
Heineken recommends stocking a core range, such as Strongbow Original, Strongbow Dark Fruit and Fosters is key to ensuring that shoppers don’t go elsewhere for their favourite beer or cider. 63% of purchases are for same day consumption (Kantar).
As 28% of shoppers want to trade up as a treat to enjoy at home (HIM), retailers should ensure that they are stocking premium products such as Amstel, Birra Moretti and Old Mout to take advantage of this opportunity to increase sales as they are seen as the most premium brands by convenience store shoppers (HIM).
Equally, with the alcohol-free category being in huge growth and now worth £51m (Nielsen), independents should look to stock a range that resonates with health-conscious shoppers who are keen to live better, but will still be attending parties and celebrating.
To cater for these changing attitudes, Heineken launched Heineken 0.0 which has quickly become the fastest growing brand in the segment as a result of its great taste and high quality. When merchandising for the Halloween and Bonfire Night, retailers should consider stocking no or low alcohol options with clear signage to zero zones which will attract shoppers who wish to feel part of the drinking occasion.
“Retailers should ensure that they are making the most of their offering through implementing creative point of sale to catch shoppers’ attention as well as clear signage, meaning that they can find what they are looking for quickly and easily,” says Lancaster . “Social media can also be a great tool to communicate with customers, reminding them to stock up for their own Halloween celebrations.”
Equally, the number of occasions when people are consuming alcohol with food has increased by over 5%in the past four years (InSites Consulting).
So, implementing cross category merchandising for beers and ciders that are Great with Food such as Birra Moretti near pizzas, and Foster’s near crisps and nuts will see an uplift in sales.
Finally, making the fixture a nicer place to shop is guaranteed to get repeat customers who are twice as likely to purchase for consumption from the chilled range (HIM).
Ensuring that the display is fully stocked with the correct range in the right pack size will mean that shoppers can find exactly what they need quickly and easily, reducing the chance of them going to search for brands elsewhere. Visit for more information on how to merchandise your chiller.
Growth occasion
“Despite being a traditional event for many years, Halloween has only recently really taken off in GB and is enjoying huge growth year on year,” says Amy Burgess, Trade Communications Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP). “The event has become a key calendar moment for our target audience and this shows no signs of slowing down. As a consumer group that values fun experiences, time with friends, social media and great-tasting drinks, it’s clear there’s more opportunity ahead for our customers, consumers and soft drinks.”
Halloween is a huge opportunity and its popularity with consumers is continuing to grow. Worth £320m, at total retail level, it’s the fourth largest retail event in Great Britain and the third biggest for soft drinks.
Like Coca-Cola is to Christmas, Fanta is to Halloween and the brand is a key driver of soft drinks growth during the four week Halloween period (Nielsen). Whilst overall soft drinks grew by 3.7% during Halloween last year, Fanta saw a boost of 26% and this was accelerated by more consumers picking up Fanta Zero than ever before (Nielsen). As more consumers take part in the spooky celebrations each year, the sales opportunity for the No.1 flavoured carbonates brand and our retail partners continues to grow.
“Consumer interests and behaviours are changing and we know that teens and young adults in particular are active social media users and value experiences with their friends,” added Burgess. “These two groups are Fanta’s core target audience and our continued investment in experiential brand activities and social media platforms is one of the main ways we connect with them.”
Last year, CCEP partnered with Snapchat to provide an exciting on-pack offer that saw consumers unlock exclusive Fanta Halloween-themed Snapchat filters and lenses, which changed daily to encourage repeat purchases. The campaign was awarded Snapchat’s ‘Best Brand Activation of the Year’, and CCEP teaming up with them again for another activation with new filters and lenses.
The ROI for the experiential campaigns is tracked through the increased traffic and social media sharing, as consumers interact more with the brand.
Fanta is back this year with another Halloween activation, supported by a multi-million pound marketing campaign that includes digital and outdoor advertising, social media and Twisted Carnival experiential activities. This year will see the return of limited-edition ghoulish on-pack graphics by renowned artist Noma Bar and the award-winning on-pack promotion with Snapchat.
CCEP is also unveiling the winning flavours of its Fanta Flavour Election, a campaign that kicked off in April 2018. The company teamed up with four popular influencers who each have large social media followings reaching a combined 4.4m Facebook and 712k Instagram fans.
Each influencer represented a new Fanta flavour and encouraged consumers to vote for their favourite flavour via online prank videos which gained 18.7m views and made it into the top 10 sponsored videos in April on Facebook.
After months of deliberation and more than 150,000 votes, Fanta Blood Orange Zero and Fanta Pink Grapefruit Zero were named the winners and will be joining the brand’s portfolio for Halloween, available in 2L formats. Both variants are Soft Drinks Tax-exempt and are naturally-flavoured containing no sugar or calories.
“When considering in store theatre for any key calendar moment, we’ve taken a collaborative approach with our customers to help them maximise their sales opportunities,” Burgess adds. “For the Halloween period, we have developed a display that delivers an eye-catching spooky touch that Fanta is renowned for.”
This year, CCEP is introducing a Fanta Halloween Ghost Train display to excite shoppers and help retailers build sales by reinforcing Fanta’s synonymy with the event.
Trick or Treat
According to research by Mars Wrigley, in 2017 confectionery drove Halloween growth by 7%, with more than a third of UK consumers buying sweets and/or chocolate for the seasonal event.
The growth was largely driven by a shift in demand towards sharing bags and twistwrap confectionery as consumers look for Trick or Treat and Big Night In confectionery options.
In the seasonal period, funsize and sharing grew at 6.5% and 5.7% respectively, highlighting the demand for a range of both fruit confectionery and chocolate options across the Halloween season.
Research highlighted that the biggest ritual associated with Halloween remains Trick or Treating, with 41% of consumers taking part. With confectionery an integral aspect of this, many consumers over buy a mix of both chocolate and sugar confectionery in both funsize formats and sharing bags to ensure they have as many treats available for trick or treaters as possible.
Last year, some of Mars Wrigley Confectionery’s brands secured four of the top five bestselling confectionery lines in funsize – including Maltesers, Mars and Skittles, and two of the top five within twistwrap.
Not only does it highlight the important role confectionery plays across the Halloween season, for retailers, it reinforces the importance of stocking consumer’s favourite brands in bestselling formats to support the biggest rituals which consumers enjoy taking part in throughout the season.
An interesting revelation is that watching a scary movie is also becoming an increasingly popular ritual that starts to build excitement in the run-up to Halloween, and spans all life stages. 31% of consumers watched a scary movie at home last year across the Halloween period – presenting a huge opportunity for retailers to stock a range of sharing bag treats, perfect for the Big Night In occasion.
Last year the popular ritual helped to build excitement in the run-up to the seasonal event, with many families seeing it as an opportunity to treat themselves with chocolate and fruit confectionery ‘More to Share’ bags, including Minstrels, M&M’s, Skittles and Starburst. Perfectly suited to the sharing occasion, ‘More to Share’ bags from Mars Wrigley Confectionery are the ideal accompaniment, whether watching a scary film in the cinema or at home.
With this in mind, Skittles will be taking consumers back to the dark side for the fourth year running. Containing five frightening flavours: (Forbidden Fruit, Midnight Lime, Blood Orange, Pomegranate and Dark Berry), Skittles Darkside is available in funsize format, alongside Skittles Fruits – both of which are perfectly suited to the Trick or Treat occasion.
Expected to deliver over £6m in sales, including across the Halloween period, Mars Wrigley Confectionery has also launched limited-edition M&M’s Crunchy Caramel. Designed to combine the second most popular flavour in the bitesize chocolate category with the world’s number one confectionery brand, the chocolate is available in pouches, treat bags and singles – perfect for the Halloween occasion.
Dan Newell, Fruity Confectionery Portfolio Director, commented: “Halloween presents a fantastic opportunity for retailers looking to drive confectionery sales. Our internal research shows that not only can retailers increase consumer confectionery spending with Halloween themed sharing bags and twistwraps, but the event also helps to boost sales of confectionery overall, as consumers look to stay in and celebrate the event with a spooky movie or party.
“Our range of Halloween themed confectionery and perfectly portioned Funsize packs, are fantastic for any retailer looking to extend their seasonal offering. Whether consumers are looking for a sharing bag to enjoy with a spooky movie, or confectionery for Trick or Treaters, Mars Wrigley Confectionery is able to help.”
New mix
Haribo, the UK’s leading gums and jellies brand, has updated top selling Supermix to offer a new mix, focusing on four iconic shapes available in more vibrant colours and creamier flavours.
Appealing to consumers that prefer Haribo’s mix of soft to eat treats, Supermix will now offer lemon meringue and peach flavoured Little Jelly Men, with delicious vanilla also featuring in the sheep and ice cream sweet pieces. These jelly and foam treats will also be available in popular flavours raspberry, blackcurrant and apple, in vibrant pink, purple and green colours.
This tasty mix is supported with a new, impactful and eye-catching bag design, providing greater shelf appeal whilst reiterating the new mix through an on-pack flash.
Alison Satterthwaite, Brand Manager – Haribo UK, comments: “We know that consumers enjoy Supermix because the pack delivers a range of enjoyable soft eating experiences. We have used this insight to update the mix and focus on four iconic shapes that our customers have come to love and recognise.
“We know consumers will love this new mix; the updated creamier flavours, along with the brighter colours, builds on the soft yet fun nature of Supermix which is why it is a favourite with fans of the brand.”
(SUB-HEAD) ‘Scaring’ bags
According to Kantar, the total Halloween season is worth £1.2bn with the confectionery category taking up around 29 per cent of that.
Mondelēz International is the second largest confectionery player in the Halloween market (IRI), with a range that meets each Halloween occasion (self-treat, trick or treat, Halloween parties and big night in).
Last year, Mondelēz had the UK’s number one Halloween self-treat within its range, which sold 1.4m units – while its trick or treat-size range was worth over £5m (IRI). This year, Mondelēz is launching a new line of chocolate NPD, perfect for both the self-treat and trick or treat occasion.
During Halloween, customers are looking for fun and excitement – retailers should create a spooky-theatre with eye-catching and impactful POS, encouraging customers to be playful and driving impulse sales.
Mondelēz has expanded its self-treat range this season to help drive impulse sales with new products.
New for Halloween 2018 are Cadbury Goo Heads. Available in creepy skeleton, pumpkin, Frankenstein, Dracula or were-wolf variants.
Each gruesome head is filled with gooey white fondant encased in a Cadbury chocolate shell. They are available individually or in a pack of five, offering value and convenience to customers, making the product great for on the go and for Halloween parties too.
The Halloween sharing occasion offers the biggest opportunity to retailers at Halloween – catering to those throwing Halloween parties, having a Halloween night in or stocking up for trick or treaters.
Retailers should take advantage of this by placing sharing bags in hotspots across their store.
Goo Heads are also being joined by Cadbury Goo Head Minis, which include a selection of individually wrapped, mini skeleton, pumpkin, Frankenstein, Dracula or were-wolf heads filled with gooey fondant – ideal for sharing.
Maynards Bassetts Creepy Chews, is returning for another season. Each chew is individually wrapped, with a soft-filled centre in either orange or strawberry.
Snacking company pladis has launched a range of Halloween-themed cakes to celebrate the occasion. The range includes McVitie’s Jaffa Freaky cake bars, McVitie’s Jaffa Lemon and Slime cake bars, McVitie’s Digestives Beastly Bakes and McVitie’s Hobnobs Terrifying Toffee Apple Flapjacks.
Available now in the convenience channel, the cake range has an RRP of £1.00.
Claire Hooper, Head of Marketing for McVitie’s Cake Company at pladis UK&I said: “We’re thrilled to be launching our McVitie’s Halloween cake range into the cake category this September. We know consumers love this season and these four products allow us to hit three occasions -a lunchbox treat, a me-time moment and an individually wrapped cake for trick or treaters.
“We’re confident these products will give great stand out on shelf and be popular with McVitie’s fans, giving retailers a fantastic opportunity to pick up additional impulse purchases by showcasing a great Halloween range.”
“Halloween is the biggest calendar event for sugar confectionery, and Bonfire Night is also hugely important, with parties and trick or treating being key confectionery purchase drivers. Swizzels typically sees its share of sugar confectionery double at Halloween in comparison to the rest of the year,” says Mark Walker, Sales Director at Swizzels.
Halloween 2017 was Swizzels’ most successful yet, total sugar sales at Halloween were in +5% growth and Swizzels outperformed the market as the number 2 manufacturer at Halloween, with +6% growth (IRI).
Brand new for 2018 is the Treat Time tub. The 420g tub is a fun selection of Swizzels’ best loved brands in a bright, modern and convenient format, ideal for sharing over Halloween and on Bonfire Night.
A great choice for Halloween is Swizzels’ Trick or Sweet bag, containing a selection of Swizzels favourites such as Double Lollies, Parma Violets, Refresher Bars, Love Hearts, as well as the Sour Apple Refreshers chew bar. The Halloween themed wrappers make for great eye-catching treats to share at parties. The spooky Halloween packaging design will also grab the attention of shoppers as they browse.
Lollies are always a popular choice at Halloween and the Trick or Treat Lolly Mix bag is perfect for the occasion with its brightly coloured, Halloween themed wrappers featured on a range of everyone’s favourite lollies. Halloween themed confectionery grew by +38% in convenience in 2017.
The Monster Treats bag is the perfect bag for sharing at larger Halloween celebrations. This bigger bag is full of Swizzels’ most loved sweets including Love Hearts, Drumstick Lollies and the Sour Apple Refreshers chew bar, all individually wrapped, making them ideal for Halloween parties and Trick or Treaters. The fun Halloween themed pack is sure to stand out to consumers ensuring Halloween is sorted.
Swizzels will be supporting its Halloween range with a ‘Halloween Sorted’ campaign across its website and social platforms.