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A Very Millennial Halloween

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ll have noticed that Halloween has absolutely exploded in the UK, becoming a significant event that brands and retailers can’t ignore. A report from Mintel has suggested that Halloween spending will rise by 5% this year to £420 million – that’s a whopping increase of £190m since 2013. With the exception of Black Friday, this far surpasses the growth of any other occasion. And while it’s true that trick or treating is as popular as ever amongst kids, it’s predominantly adults (and millennials in particular) that are driving the growth. So what’s getting them so excited?

Experiential Opportunities
The huge boom in the experience economy has given our audience scarily high expectations – they are constantly seeking new, different, and in this case, spookier and more extreme experiences to spend their money on. And with more than enough creepy cinema screenings, ghost tours, themed dinners and live action zombie apocalypses to give them their ghostly fix, it’s a race for venues to deliver the most haunted experiences and be part of the nearly 50 million #Halloween Instagram posts.

Creating One of a Kind Nights Out
Millennials might be drinking less, but they’re still willing to splash out when it comes to the second biggest drinking occasion in the social calendar.

Most Halloween events are ticketed – a simple search in London shows that you can get on the guest list for everything from masked balls and haunted boat parties to Day of the Dead raves and “Gayeances” (cabaret séances to connect with dead divas, in case you were wondering). So, to get people to buy into their experiences, alcohol brands who want to play a role in the occasion need to offer exclusives in the on-trade, partnering with the big experiential players to deliver unique production-led events.

For example, this year Bacardi has teamed up with The Curtain members’ club to create a voodoo island with a haunted photo booth, tarot card readers and even drag performances featuring man-eating plants. Then there’s premium champagne brand Veuve Cliquot, which has collaborated with members-only lifestyle brand Secret Brunch to host a haunted mansion party, where VIP tables cost up to £1000. Lastly, Kraken Rum – a brand synonymous with Halloween at the best of times – has partnered with Les Enfants Terribles, the production team behind the immersive show “Alice’s Adventures Underground” to open a ticketed hidden bar in London. I was lucky enough to attend, and after selling our souls to get in, we embarked on a mythical quest to find the Kraken, eventually ending up at an underwater bar where we enjoyed themed cocktails with mermaids and fortune tellers.

More Choice, More Glamour
The number of millennials that dress up for Halloween is on the rise, with 25% now intending to dress up compared to 10% of the overall population. But what does that mean for retailers?

A continuous rise in internet shopping and an increase in the number of millennials using social media for fashion and make-up inspiration means that the traditional DIY ghost sheet costume is no longer going to cut it. Fast fashion brands like Boohoo and Missguided have changed attitudes towards shopping, and millennials are more willing to buy outfits they know they will only wear once. High street brands such as H&M has also taken note of this and developed glamourous Halloween ranges that it has allocated ample premium window space for.

Fashion and beauty brands are also capitalising on this year’s huge trend for glitter and face gems. (There has been a massive appetite for glitter and face gems this year, with a 300% uplift compared to last year.) Though typically a way to accessorise for festivals and club nights, brands are now launching innovative products for every season, allowing millennials to add sparkle to any special occasion.

For example, this year Nivea will be offering a ‘Boo-tique’ immersive beauty pop-up with Halloween makeovers and cleansing tips. Instagram favourite Gypsy has partnered with Warner Brothers to launch a range of Superhero-themed face gems, providing glitter makeovers in Topshop concessions and offering online tutorials of how to become a “Hallo-queen”. Agent Provocateur is hosting a night of tarot card reading, corset training and sensuous tricks and treats, and Freixenet is teaming up with blow-dry bar, Duck & Dry, to offer complimentary Halloween-inspired hair and make-up looks.

Though some may be cynical and think that Halloween is yet another money-making opportunity, for the millennial audience (myself included) it’s more than that. It’s a form of escapism – a chance to behave like the big kids we are at heart and create long-lasting memories with our friends. You can tailor your Halloween experience based on your interests and willingness to dress up – and it’s exciting to see that brands are responding with genuinely unique events to allow that. Once I’ve finally managed to scrape my face paint off I look forward to seeing what Halloween 2019 looks like.

Written by Robyn Lyness
Account Manager


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