What are you going to be this Halloween? Princess Elsa? Superman? Chewbacca? Queen Bee?

It is the perfect day that gives one the freedom of dressing up as their favorite character from a movie, cartoon or superhero comic and it’s totally normal! Or if you’re not into the whole costume thing, then you’re without a doubt looking forward to all the chocolate and sweets.

Halloween, one of the world’s oldest holidays, is still celebrated today in a number of countries around the globe. It originally started as the Celtic festival known as Samhain, where revellers would light bonfires and wear costumes/masks in the hope to ward off evil spirits. However, throughout the years it has now evolved into an exciting celebration, where children and adults dress up as their favorite characters, enjoy parties and go trick-or-treating. Halloween is becoming more popular on a yearly basis and in the US it is the second-largest commercial holiday, which alone grossed £5.34 billion in 2017[1]. The UK is beginning to follow suit and Halloween has now been reported to be Britain’s third biggest commercial celebration, after Christmas and Easter. In the UK, consumers have spent around £320m in 2017, an increase of around 40% since 2013.

A big driver for Halloweens’ increasing popularity since 2005 is the influence of social media on consumer decisions helping them to get ideas and inspiration[2]. In 2017, 65% of children and parents looked for costume inspirations on social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram)[3]. With increased usage of accessing social media platforms on the go, both adults and children are now more conscious and aware of the constantly changing pop culture. Given this, there is an increasing need to keep up with the latest trends with a quarter of children aged 7-14 saying they enjoy keeping up with the latest trends (25%)[4]. With a generation that loves to document events using social media platforms, it comes as no surprise that there are nearly 76.2 million #Halloween posts on Instagram along with 2.8 million tweets associated with #HalloweenCostume[5].

Due to this increasing influence of social media, the type of costume preference by the children is changing compared with their parents’ generation[6]. Having instant access to films, games, and videos featuring their favorite characters On Demand means they are more drawn to character led costumes, such as Elsa (Frozen) and Batman (DC Comics), rather than the “traditional” Halloween favorites, such as ghosts and witches/wizards. This change in costume preference suggests that brand licensing is having a greater influence, which is being driven by the rising number of media properties and distribution platforms.

Research has shown that children are influenced by online reviews/comments that are posted on social media with 35% of 7-14 year olds agreeing with this[7]. As a result of this increasing influence of social media on purchase decisions, brand licenses have taken notice and have implemented marketing campaigns to target “popular” trends amongst children. Hence, licensed brands are using social media platforms more often and utilising them to their advantage to drive more sales and boost their product campaigns.

Over the years, Halloween celebrations have become more and more popular. While costumes have always been popular during Halloween, the increasing access to a range of social media platforms on the go has meant that brand licensing has a greater role to play in children’s costume preferences. Knowing the influence of social media on purchase decisions, brand licenses and companies are now using targeted marketing campaigns to be able to latch onto popular trends among kids.

Written by: Zairen Tasnin


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[1] https://nrf.com/blog/2018-halloween-shopping-behavior

[2] https://www.statista.com/statistics/330279/halloween-products-expenditure-in-the-united-kingdom-uk-forecast/

[3] https://cleverstilettos.com/social-media-influences-halloween-costumes

[4]  TGI Youth Survey 2018

[5] https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/halloween/

[6] https://cleverstilettos.com/social-media-influences-halloween-costumes

[7] TGI Youth Survey 2018