A comprehensive marketing guide for Halloween 2019

Hello Yuqo
Halloween is a billion-dollar holiday that sees massive annual e-commerce sales. Costumes, candy, and decorations are among the best-selling products. Here's how to localise your campaign to different markets around the world.

As soon as the fall breeze sets in, it means Halloween is just around the corner. It also means shoppers are gearing up to purchase everything from costumes and candies to decorations and, of course, pumpkins. America is undoubtedly the country that takes things to the extreme when it comes to this annual festival, but many other countries also put a lot of effort into trick-or-treating and getting into a spooky mood.
What originated as the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain has now become a full-blown commercialised celebration. It has also become a significant event for both online and brick-and-mortar retailers.
Online retailers offer shoppers a distinct advantage. It’s no secret that supermarkets and outlets become extremely busy leading up to Halloween. Hoards of people take to the stores to stock up on Halloween food, costumes, and so on.
By comparison, online shops allow consumers to purchase these items from the comfort of their own home. No crowds, no queues, and no travelling. The percentage of online shoppers is increasing exponentially, and this trend can be seen in annual Halloween spending.
Let’s take a look at how several individual countries celebrate Halloween, their spending patterns (where available), and how to localise and optimise marketing campaigns to increase conversions.


The United Kingdom has the highest retail e-commerce sales in the world at 15.6%, and Halloween makes up an impressive slice of the pie. In 2013, approximately £230 million was spent on retail products during Halloween. These figures skyrocketed to £310 million in 2016, according to consumer research by Mintel.
In 2018, it’s estimated that 46% of UK shoppers got involved in the festivities; 78% of them joined in by purchasing chocolates and other sweets, 41% invested in house decorations, 40% purchased costumes, 34% bought party food, and 31% made beverage purchases.
Statistics show that 29% of Halloween retail purchases in the country are impulse buys, and people between the ages of 27–36 are most likely to spend more. This is also the same age group that makes up 32% of Instagram users worldwide. Considering 80% of all Instagram accounts follow a business page, it’s a great social media platform on which to launch sponsored posts leading up to Halloween.
Obviously, the UK has a sweet tooth when it comes to Halloween. Candy and treats should play a crucial part in localisation.


The Dutch don’t make much of a big deal when it comes to Halloween. Plus, they rather celebrate something similar to it: Saint Martin’s day. It’s more popular to wander around the streets on November 11 instead of trick-or-treating on October 31. Saint Martin’s day revolves around the traditional sowing of wheat.
On this day, kids will wander around the neighbourhood and sing songs for candy. Marketing localisation in the Netherlands should definitely centre around treats. There isn’t really a spooky feel to the festival; think pretty candles and lanterns.
The Dutch don’t make much of a big deal when it comes to Halloween.


Halloween is also quite low-key within France, and reports state that some citizens view it as too commercial. Trick-or-treating isn’t common, but Halloween parties are thrown en masse.
Those who do dress up select genuinely scary outfits, as opposed to the cuter numbers often seen in the US. If you plan on marketing costumes, go with the most frightening stuff you can find. One key target demographic is adults attending the club scene. Various venues in Paris host Halloween parties, from the Aquarium to the Nouveau Casino.


Halloween is a growing trend in the German market. Although the more traditional citizens turn their noses up at it, young adults in the country enjoy dressing up in scary outfits (like their French counterparts) and attending parties in the major cities. Pumpkin festivals are also popular events, where people gather to carve faces into the gourd.
Trick-or-treating isn’t very popular in the country, so candy and treats won’t boost sales so well. Aim for cheap and genuinely scary outfits to meet the demands of partygoers.


For a European country, Spain goes big when it comes to Halloween-like celebrations. As such, it’s an excellent opportunity to ramp up campaigns in the Spanish market. The festival is actually known as “El Dia de Los Muertos” (Day of the Dead), which is a three-day celebration that begins on October 31st. This holiday is all about honouring the dead and celebrating life.
Northern Spain is more enthusiastic about this holiday than the rest of the country. The region erupts with pumpkin carving, costume parties, and trick-or-treating. Focus on costumes and candy to maximise sales when targeting these areas.


Around 48% of Italians celebrate Halloween. The main celebration—Saint’s Day—takes place on November 1st, but Halloween is also a significant festival. The day usually consists of children’s costume parties during the day, followed by trick-or-treating during the evening. This makes candy a massive localisation factor. When the sun sets, adults typically head out to the clubs to take part in costume parties.
Around 48% of Italians celebrate Halloween.


Halloween is a major celebration within the United States. The average shopper will spend $82.27 in preparation for the event, and a massive 35% use the internet to explore potential purchases. This allows e-commerce retailers to capture significant sales. In total, the country is set to spend a colossal $8.8 billion on Halloween in 2019.
Sixty-eight percent of the population plan on celebrating Halloween in 2019, and 69% of them intend to hand out candy, making it the most productive sector to market. A further 49% plan on decorating their homes, 47% will dress up in costumes, and 17% even plan on dressing up their pets. These are all stellar opportunities for online retailers.
Americans spend quite some time preparing for the celebration, so start your marketing campaigns early; 37% of participants plan to start Halloween shopping before October, 6% will start before September, 28% will complete their shopping during September, and 41% during the first week of October. The remaining 25% will start their shopping during the last two weeks of October.
The country will spend a massive $3.4 billion on costumes alone, with the most popular being princesses, animals, Star Wars characters, witches, and pirates. Around 35.2% of these sales will take place online, 18.2% from Facebook posts, and 10.4% from Instagram accounts.


Various Asian markets have their own holidays or festivals dedicated to honouring the dead, although most of these traditions are unlike Western Halloween, and often occur at different times throughout the year.
Some examples of Halloween-like events include Japan’s Obon Festival, which is celebrated in the summer to commemorate lost ancestors. It involves stringing up paper lanterns, visiting the graves of relatives, and communing with family. Not a candy holiday by any stretch, marketers should focus more on offering products and services to support the honourable nature of this festival.
Then there’s the Korean festival of Chuseok, a harvest festival where people visit their ancestral hometowns and engage in big feasts to honour their relatives. However, Western Halloween celebrations are becoming more popular in South Korea among younger generations. It’s worth looking into each of these festivals individually to assess unique opportunities and cultural nuances.


Hashtags are a superb means of putting your products and services front and centre online. They are especially useful on Instagram, which is good news considering how many potential Halloween shoppers use the platform. Use the following hashtags to boost your sales:
#halloween #happyhalloween #trickortreat #halloweenparty #halloweenmakeup #halloweencostume #spookyseason