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No, Young Consumers Won’t Be Cancelling Halloween This Year

Halloween might look different this year, but YPulse’s on-demand survey data shows that plenty of young consumers still want to celebrate—and spend on it…


Yes, Halloween is more than two months away—but it’s 2020, so it’s already making headlines. According to Adweek, candy companies are worried there will be less demand for their business this Halloween due to COVID-related event cancellations and fewer outings. In anticipation of “less demand,” Hershey has shifted production away from Halloween-themed products. Analysts suggest that Hershey’s and other companies should consider ramping up ads to target consumers who want to “treat themselves” or put out “extra candy bowls” in the living room—which are smart suggestions. But is it true that Halloween is going to be cancelled this year?

In recent years, Millennials’ continued passion for the holiday, despite their adult status, has helped to boost sales, and 83% of young consumers tell YPulse that you’re never too old to celebrate Halloween—and it’s arguable that this year, young consumers will be looking for anything to celebrate. To find out which way they’re leaning when it comes to having a COVID Halloween, we turned to our on-demand research tool PULSE to get real-time responses on their current views and plans. We found that about half of young consumers say they will celebrate Halloween even with COVID going on:

Young people are more likely to say that they will celebrate Halloween even with COVID going on than those who say they won’t celebrate because of COVID. Of course, this is the year that anything can happen, but these numbers show that many young consumers want Halloween to happen and don’t plan to cancel it. Among those who won’t be celebrating, there could be an opportunity to present different ways that they can keep the holiday alive, even with COVID looming. At the very least, brands should be able to appeal to those who want to celebrate and have some pieces of the tradition that they love continue this year. And when we asked what elements of Halloween they’re planning to participate in, more opportunities became clear:

Halloween might look different this year, but clearly many young consumers still plan to spend for it. Our PULSE data shows that over two in five young consumers say they plan to buy Halloween candy this fall, a quarter plan to buy fall decorations, and close to that amount say they will buy Halloween decorations.

There is clearly some wariness around trick-or-treating, with only 18% saying they plan to hand out candy to trick or treaters—though that number increases to 23% among 35-44-year-olds. Currently, 13% of young consumers plan to go trick-or-treating themselves. We should note that’s compared to 17% of young consumers and Millennial parents who planned to go trick or treating in 2019. But even if trick-or-treating isn’t as strong this year, one in five tell us that they will plan an alternative social distanced celebration of some kind. Those alternative celebrations may take the place of the usual Halloween traditions, but show there will be new ways to appeal to Gen Z and Millennials.

Brands that help young consumers to find new and safe ways to celebrate the holiday during this, yes, scary, year could win out. Offering virtual celebrations to show off costumes, or suggestions for different ways to distribute candy are just a few of the ways that marketing could keep the holiday alive. Because many young consumers are planning to spend for it: When we asked how much they think they will spend on Halloween 39% told us they think they’ll spend the same or more than last year.