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Halloween is a Social Media Event That’s All About Aesthetics

Spooky season has many looks, but wraps up into one big social media aesthetic craze…

TL;DR

  • Gen Z females express their aesthetic creativity with costume ideas on TikTok
  • Halloween haul vids are helping them gear up for the Halloween season
  • Even watching scary movies is fodder for social content

For fall-loving Gen Z and Millennials, “spooky season” begins on September 1st, and they make it known on social media that their favorite time of year has finally arrived. It’s time for them to bust out their seasonal decorations (if they ever took them down) and stock up on pumpkin spice everything. Through their profiles, it’s easy to see how young people have made Halloween more than a holiday for kids to go out to get candy and into another #aesthetic that they can funnel good feelings into. And of course, those good feelings justify their seasonal shopping, which get recorded for their #HalloweenHaul.

On TikTok, the hashtag #Halloween2022 has 2.4B views (over a billion more than when we checked in mid-September), and is full of costumes, DIYs, recipes, and more. Some posts have been up for months, as the year-long Halloween lovers awaited their time to shine—and make viral Halloween content. All of which matches the aesthetics of their spooky season moodboards and compilation videos, whether they’re looking for the nostalgic ‘90s horror look or simply anything in warm browns and oranges. Some video and audio trends resurface yearly, like the iconic pumpkin head photo shoots and spooky scary skeletons song, but these creative gens come up with new trends to show their spooky spirit, too. This year, these three trends have been filling up their feeds: 

They love planning costumes, maybe more than wearing them

69% percent of young people tell YPulse they’ll be spending on a costume this year, making videos about potential looks one of the most popular trends of the season. Many of the top videos under #Halloween2022 are variations of Halloween costume idea posts—with an option for everyone and every style of costume. Some of the most popular kinds this year are duo looks for “two pretty best friends,” including everything from nostalgic cartoon references to this year’s iconic TV duo Maddie and Cassie from Euphoria. Many of the popular costume inspiration pictures are taken from Pinterest, where Halloween content thrives. Pinterest has even tracked which costume ideas are being most searched this year, likely telling which of these posts had the most impact (hint: Stranger Things costumes are number one). 

But beyond the characters and concepts, one incredibly important aspect of these videos is providing purchasing links for every item the costume requires. Even for something like Tinkerbell, these TikTokers find on-trend items to make the costume more post-worthy. And many use just one, universally available source: Amazon. By linking their #AmazonFinds, they can redirect their viewers to their Amazon storefront where every item has been sorted into folders (because there’s often 20+ parts to these costume series). 

It makes sense that the vast majority of these costumes are posted by young females for “the girlies,” as 72% of young females agree they get Halloween costume and decoration ideas from social media. Gen Z females in particular are the most likely to say they’re spending on costumes this year (76%) as well as taking photos to post on social media (28%). But, only 14% of females say they’ll be hosting or attending a party, and only 7% over 21 say they’ll go to a bar or club. So, just like so many other aesthetic styles online, many of these costumes will be just for their feed.

Shopping spooky merch is its own activity

While costume posts took TikTok by storm this year, shopping recommendations are still racking up millions of views and likes. YPulse data shows 83% of young consumers agree they like when brands release Halloween-themed products, and social media is certainly influencing which ones they get. Their #HalloweenHauls come from, well, wherever is selling Halloween products first: HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, and Spirit Halloween naturally. But unsurprisingly, Target is the most popular spot for this shopping content (as a year round fav), and the hashtag #TargetHalloween has 11.6B views of its own. Many videos show off decorations from the dollar-spot, telling viewers “RUN don’t walk” to get these items. Target Halloween shopping even constitutes a date night for some young people; they fill their cart up with night in essentials (blankets, candles, cookies, even new sweatpants) before cozying up at home with a movie, which they especially love this time of year. 

Halloween collections can also tap into the nostalgia they feel for this holiday; YPulse data shows 85% of Gen Z and Millennials agree Halloween is a great excuse to be a kid again. Some Halloween marketing that has recently caught their attention is the return of the McDonald’s Boo-bucket (only in Canada right now). Millennials on Twitter excitedly entered the brands’ contest to win all four, a limited edition film camera, and a $100 gift card, but Millennial parents really showed their excitement in the replies to share this piece of their childhood with their own kids.

Halloween shows and movies are their favorite seasonal past time

Halloween is the perfect time for a movie night, or a marathon, and YPulse data shows young consumers are all about them. Watching scary / horror movies is one of the top ways Gen Z and Millennials are celebrating Halloween this year (second only to eating candy). And on TikTok, new horror flicks for the year have been anticipated for months. A few have been major hits with young viewers, namely “SMILE” which caught their attention with its viral marketing in the week before it premiered. Paramount took the risk of an unconventional campaign, setting up actors putting on the creepy smile from the film in the crowd at baseball games. Having gained so much attention on social media, for freaking them out and then impressing them, the film made $22M its opening weekend (in just North America). On TikTok, the hashtag #SmileMovie has 285M views, now with as many videos of Gen Z and Millennials reviewing it as it did posts of the marketing, showing how tapping their all-in Halloween energy can make for huge success. 

But, the yearly traditions of movies at home are just as viral as heading off to catch the newest flicks. Another Amazon recommendation, this scratch off poster of the Top 100 Horror Movies racks up millions of views as users make (and post) their way through the list. YPulse data shows movie marathons are especially popular this time of year, as for Gen Z watching scary movies on TV is even more popular than streaming Halloween-themed / scary movies / TV episodes on streaming services. Cable TV, while not generally popular for young people, gives them the advantage of running Halloween movies (new and retro) all day long, all month long, without making them pay for each one on a different platform. But, it’s also a key part of the Autumnal #CozyAesthetic that romanticizes keeping warm inside with a ghost-shaped mug and a fall-scented candle.