Over the last decade as consumers we can’t have failed to notice the growth of Halloween in the UK. It is now the 3rd biggest FMCG event in the annual calendar and many brands have latched onto this trend by developing Halloween ranges. Family brands such as Mr Kipling, Haribo, Jaffa Cakes and Cadbury’s have all developed Halloween themed ranges, many designed for trick or treating and family parties. But is the trend for Halloween declining and is it dangerous for FMCG brands to put so many eggs in one basket?

Halloween Confectionery and Cake Sales

Over the past few years there has been a decline of up to a fifth in confectionery and cakes sales (see this feature from The Grocer for more details) specifically marketed for Halloween. It is interesting to examine why this is, when Halloween does seem to be an occasion that continues to grow in popularity in the UK. Concerns and high-profile campaigns around sugar consumption could have effected this decline. Parents limiting treats, even on special occasions, and a general trend away from high sugar snacks to more “healthy” alternatives, could have all contributed.

Does the day of the week matter?

The day of the week Halloween falls on is also a strong influencer on sales. In 2014 and 2015, Halloween fell on a weekend creating the opportunity for more family parties. Last year the 31st October fell on a Monday and that is bound to influence the participation of the family market.

There are also the continued concerns of anti-social behaviour around Halloween. Many neighbourhoods have a fantastic feeling of community on Halloween and encourage family trick or treating, but the reverse can apply with many communities opting out, which could create regional variations in sales of Halloween confectionery.

So, what can the FMCG sector, and in particular confectionery do, to take advantage of this event before the Christmas rush takes hold?

Don’t just target the family market

As we have seen, the day Halloween falls on can affect the level of family participation and therefore sales of particularly confectionery and cakes. However, the rise of adult participation in Halloween should not be ignored by brands. Adult Halloween house parties and pub and nightclub events have started to increase, but there has been little development in the alcohol or adult snack range to appeal to this market.

Develop non-food and allergy aware treats

In the US there has been a campaign by FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) to include more allergy friendly and non-food treats in this celebration. Households have been encouraged to display a teal pumpkin if they have allergy friendly treats available.

FMCG brands could develop brand tie-ins, in the way that Kinder eggs have done with toy manufacturers, to be inclusive of all sectors of the market

Be sugar aware

The rise in popularity of reduced sugar and healthy alternative snacks should not be ignored at Halloween. In fact, the statistics show that popcorn has seen a 15% increase in sales at Halloween, compared to 197% decline in confectionery sales (Source:The Grocer). By diverting some theming to healthy snacks, this could be a way to re-engage the family market. For example, Bear Claws Healthy Kids Snacks have been given a Halloween makeover to appeal to the family market. Read more about this here.

Halloween and family snacking

Are families looking for less sugar and more healthy alternatives at Halloween?

Make it more of an experience

If trick or treating is in decline in a particular location, stores could capitalise on this by holding their own in store events. Getting consumers to come to them rather than going online could drive sales in this seasonal market.

Combine festivals

Egbert mascot Halloween

Egbert says Halloween is not dead in the water yet for the FMCG sector.

In the UK Bonfire night follows hot on the heels of Halloween, so the potential for cross promotion and diversification in the market is great. This could make the tight window of opportunity for sales greater and increase the sales around bonfire night, a festival which has played second fiddle to Halloween in the last few years.

Halloween promotions are most definitely not in the graveyard yet, but the FMCG sector do need to constantly evolve in a fast-moving snack and confectionery market to ensure they continue to maximise sales in this tight window of opportunity.