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Millennials Can’t Grow Out of This Halloween Tradition

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

Millennials (and Gen Z) are celebrating Halloween with a healthy dose of nostalgia. Here’s the Halloween tradition they refuse to grow out of—and why more brands should pay attention…

Halloween is big money for brands, and Americans actually may set a record for their spooky spending this year. The National Retail Federation has predicted an 8.3% increase in spending for the holiday, for a total of $9.1 billion. Forty-eight percent of adults plan on dressing up in a costume this year, up eight million over last year—16% also plan to dress up their pets, and candy, decorations, and greeting cards will also take a bite out of consumers’ cash.

Of course, Millennials are all about the holiday, with 86% telling us they plan to celebrate. It’s no surprise that the generation that doesn’t really want to grow up is still holding on to the holiday. Two in five tell us that they plan to dress up in costume, and a third plan to decorate their apartment/room/house. Of course, brands have made plans to cater to these younger Halloween shoppers: Walmart is adding an array of Maskimals (the giant animal-inspired head gear) and is catering to Customization Nation with personalized candy totes, doormats, and more. Spirit Halloween is pushing costumes based on Millennial and Gen Z-favorite Stranger Thingsthink Eleven (and her beloved Eggos). But while tapping into current obsessions is one great way to appeal to these generations, the holiday is all about a healthy dose of nostalgia for many young shoppers—and one of their childhood traditions is actually inspiring a slew of new products that bigger brands may want to pay attention to. What’s the tradition we’re referencing? In our Halloween survey, we asked Millennials and Gen Z their favorite movie to watch for the holiday*, and found that a 24-year-old kids’ movie tops the top 10 list:

*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of movies that young consumers like to watch for Halloween—without our preconceived ideas shaping their responses. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are most popular. The lists are ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.

What Is Their Favorite Movie to Watch for Halloween?


      1. Hocus Pocus
      2. Halloween
      3. Halloweentown
      4. Nightmare Before Christmas
      5. Friday the 13th
      6. Any scary movie
      7. Nightmare on Elm Street
      8. Charlie Brown
      9. Saw
      10. All Halloween movies

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketingIt’s all a bunch of Hocus Pocus for Millennials and Gen Z this time of year! The film might have been made for kids, but as the generations age up they’re not letting go of their childhood favorite. Millennials were more likely to name Hocus Pocus as the movie they watch at Halloween than Gen Z—but it was still in the top five for the younger generation as well. (Halloween topped their list, followed by Halloweentown). BuzzFeed posts focused on Hocus Pocus start in September, and they continue to chronicle the depth of the film’s fandom. (The recent announcement that a remake was being created instead of a sequel inspired particular fan venom.)

So why should brands care about this nostalgia-steeped tradition? Well, it’s prompting sales of Sanderson-sister inspired merch from industrious small brands and DIY-ers online who are tapping into Millennials’ desire to pay homage to the movie well into adulthood.

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketingAccording to MediaPost, Hocus Pocus is still a popular costume pick for nostalgic trick-or-treaters (and Millennial parents hoping to deck their kiddos out as Winifred and co.). But the Hocus Pocus products only start there. Etsy and Amazon are filled with mugs, sweatshirts, totes, and tees emblazoned with lines from the movie and silhouettes of the main witches’ now-classic hairstyles. Refinery 29 recently spotlighted a small beauty brand, Wonderland Magic Bath, that released a Hocus Pocus collection of beauty products—something any big brand could have done as well. Searches for the film on Google continue to spike every October, which means that products that tie into the movie could surface and meet the demand. In other words, Millennials aren’t just still watching their childhood Halloween movie favorite, they’re still spending money on it, and brands could take the opportunity to give them the nostalgic Halloween products they might want.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.