Six New Ideas To Maximize Halloween Sales

halloween dog1My eyes were closed and my breath slow and deep as a few snippets of strange conversation drifted over from a few mats away. I was preparing mind and body to dive into my Saturday morning yoga class when my Zen-like state was jolted into a strange reality.

The yogis were talking about this year’s Halloween costumes for their pets.

Was I hearing correctly? My yoga friends are an eclectic group of smart, successful, grown-ups. Still, they will be dedicating a good deal of time, money and effort into dressing their cats and dogs for Halloween. And loving it.

They are not alone. The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend $350 million on pet Halloween costumes. That’s a pretty big number, but just table scraps when you consider that some estimates of the Halloween industry surpass $10 billion.

A quaint little holiday for kids, an excuse to amass and consume vast amounts of free candy, has morphed into one of our most mainstream and commercially driven holidays. And why not? Kids shouldn’t be the only ones with a license to act out their fantasies through dress up and abuse their bodies to their hearts’ content.

I credit, or perhaps blame, Coors Light, who helped turn Halloween into a celebration for adults and the third biggest drinking holiday after New Year’s Eve and Saint Patrick’s Day with its brilliant “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark” campaign in the 80’s.

If you’re in marketing, it’s all about growth, right? So much “white space,” so little time. $10 billion? We can surely do better. If Halloween were a publically traded company, Wall Street would be obsessing over sales and margins, looking for double digit percentage gains year after year to avert a dip in the stock price.

With our economy still off track from the Great Recession of 2008, we at The Right Brain Studio have taken it upon ourselves to generate new Halloween ideas as a public service. We want to play our part in helping to infuse an incremental billion or two into the mix to create new jobs, increase prosperity and spread Halloween joy to an even greater audience.

1.      Organic/Vegan/Gluten Free Halloween

Shame on our culture for tolerating the bigotry of this holiday! Let’s be inclusive, do good as we do well and watch retail revenue soar. Vegans, gluten-free eaters and others with specialized diets are real people with real rights – and real money in their pockets. If municipalities won’t pass ordinances to ensure that there are choices for all trick or treaters, let’s all do the right thing on our own.  That bowl full of fun-size Snickers is simply not enough anymore. Let’s make sure clearly labeled treat packages are available with the foods people want for their well-being.

2.      Digital Trick or Treating

Kids and teens with smart phone addictions need not leave the comfort of their own homes or let go of their devices. It’s trick or treating in a few easy steps. Just download Amazon’s new TrikTreat App and upload a photo of you in your costume. Then go to the Google Maps link, type in your address, go to “street view,” and click on a home. If they have opted in to hand out treats, they’ll see your photo and will be empowered to place any amount of the candy of their choice into your virtual trick or treat bag. If they haven’t opted in, you get to digitally TP the house and Tweet nasty things about them.

Your candy is shipped by drone at the end of the evening for a small fee. Free for Amazon Prime members.

3.      The Sharing Economy

Thrift shops and the people who sell new costumes might not like this one, but why not put some money in the pockets of real people with extra Halloween capacity?

Have one or more costumes to share? Looking for something new to wear without the hassle and expense of going out and shopping for a costume? The Halloween Costume Exchange is for you! People can register their “extra” costumes, clothing items, make-up or anything that might be used for Halloween. Others can then log on to the easy to use app to enter search criteria for costumes. Items can be loaned for a fee or purchased.

4.      Morning Daypart

How underserved is this time of day? General Mills is bringing back it’s “Monster Cereals” for Halloween this year, with the Count Chocula, Fraken Berry and Boo Berry boxes reimagined with art work from DC Comics. A headline on their internally generated blog made the announcement back in August with the headline “The Monster Cereal News You’ve Been Waiting For.” I sure hope that you haven’t been sitting around waiting for Monster Cereal news, but regardless, these products are too old and too tame.

Let’s get with the spare-no-graphic-detail gore of the modern age. How about a new cereal called Bones, that look like, well, human bones? When you poor on the milk it turns red. Totally disgusting. Tweens, teens and the sizable target of arrested development males will love it.

My friend Stephen Fischer helped create this idea as part of a spec project we were doing for General Mills when I was starting my business many years ago. We still love it, but strangely, General Mills passed on it.

5.      Baby Boomers

Here in LA, the costume parties in bars, restaurants and clubs started last weekend. The problem is that the action doesn’t get going until late, around 10PM or so, a time when Baby Boomers are getting ready for bed or fast asleep. Why ignore this target of 75 million plus people? They still think they can rock, but for most of them, it gets late early these days.

The solution is to hold “Early Bird” rock and roll themed Halloween Parties that start at 5 and end at 9 before Generations X & Y start showing up. Boomers can get dressed up as their favorite Beatle, don their Grateful Dead tie-dye hippie outfits or go for the pinnacle of late 60’s style with their Carnaby Street bell bottom pants and mini skirts in psychedelic colors.

Special new drinks can be created for the occasion, like the MetaPumpkin, a vodka, sugar free Red Bull, pumpkin spice and orange flavored Metamucil. If that doesn’t make the Boomers glow, nothing will.

 6.      States With Legalized Marijuana

And speaking of glowing, is this a no brainer or what? Parties for stoners sponsored by Mars and Hershey’s. The first mini Milky Way is free and then the price goes up every hour as the night wears on. No laws are broken, Halloween revelers have big smiles on their faces, the candy company sponsors make lots of money and the states get tax revenue. Everyone wins.

 Let’s make next Halloween even better! The Halloween Brand must grow!

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