Spooky spend to soar next week as October kicks off Halloween shopping

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54% increase in searches for “Halloween”.

Women searching 130% more than men.

2,000 daily searches by over 60s.

Halloween is coming of age as one of the UK’s biggest cultural events, and the shift from September to October will spark a big spike in associated spending, according to insights released today by eBay Advertising.

In the first week of October last year, there was an increase of 54% in searches for “Halloween” items on ebay.co.uk, compared with the week before, as consumers planned their spooky celebrations weeks in advance.

eBay Advertising can reveal that the size of the prize for brands is huge: in total, there were more than 1.2 million searches for “Halloween” items in the four weeks leading up to 31st October, and a further 500,000+ searches for “Halloween costume” over the same period.

Women were the most active Halloween buyers, making 130%more searches for “Halloween” items than men in September and October in 2015, and the biggest week for Halloween spending was the week of 18th October, when searches reached an average of almost 55,000 per day.

And of course spending on Halloween-specific items is just the tip of the iceberg: eBay’s insights demonstrate that shopping for products to mark the 31st October spans a variety of sectors.

A celebration for all ages

It may traditionally have been an occasion for children, but eBay Advertising data shows that Halloween is now embraced across generations, giving brands the opportunity to target a wide range of ages.

This is especially true when it comes to the UK’s love of fancy dress. Throughout September 2015 there were more purchases of children’s than adults’ fancy dress outfits on ebay.co.uk. But in the three weeks leading up to Halloween this changed, and adults’ costumes became more popular as shoppers released their inner child for All Hallow’s Eve.

And it wasn’t just young adults keen to dress up for the occasion. Shoppers aged 40-49 were the most likely age group to be searching for “adults fancy dress”, followed by those between the ages of 50 and 59.

Even age groups that might be considered outside the target market got in on the Halloween action. In the week before Halloween, shoppers over the age of 60 made 2,000 searches for “Halloween” items, showing that brands pigeon-hole by demographic at their own risk. And if brands needed more proof that Halloween really is for all the family, searches for “dog Halloween costume” rose by 43% three weeks before Halloween, before going on to reach a peak of almost 250 searches a day.

The Halloween halo effect

For a significant group of shoppers Halloween is about much more than a costume; it’s a chance to splash out on entertaining friends and family. As a result, a range of categories are likely to see a halo effect of Halloween spending.

In the first week of October last year, searches for “fog machine” on ebay.co.uk rose by 30% and, in the third week of the month, searches for outdoor Halloween items in eBay’s Garden & Patio category rose by a third, as shoppers pulled out all the stops to plan the perfect party.

Horror films also played a big part in shoppers’ Halloween plans. In the week before Halloween last year, searches for iconic horror films Scream and The Exorcist surged by 25% and 23%, respectively, on ebay.co.uk. And in the spirit of up-scaling their Halloween viewing, shoppers also made more than 280 searches per hour for projectors to watch them on.

Rob Bassett, Advertising Director at eBay in the UK believes that of all the retail trends to migrate across the Atlantic, few have had as big an impact on consumer behaviour as Halloween.

“This data demonstrates the huge potential Halloween offers brands to inspire shoppers across demographics and in a range of categories: from pet fancy dress outfits, to projectors for film screenings. That’s why we launched our Halloween Advanced Targeting tool, to allow brands to pinpoint different shopper groups and deliver highly relevant messaging to those actively celebrating the 31st October. And eBay is one of the few shopping destinations that offers dedicated Halloween inventory and advertising content, meaning brands targeting Halloween buyers can minimise campaign wastage.”

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Halloween now marks the start of the peak spending season, and it’s a valuable opportunity for brands to build awareness in the run up to Christmas. But its wide appeal can also expose any shortcomings in digital campaign strategies. Marketers need to understand that the key to capitalising on broad cultural events is to segment shoppers by their previous behaviour and preferences. Blanket targeting just won’t cut it on online platforms, where consumers expect personalised, precise interactions with brands.
Pauline Robson, Director, MediaCom