With Halloween quickly approaching, we wanted to learn a bit more about how Americans buy candy and costumes so that we could help our clients better understand how to expect users to behave as they shopped for Halloween. Blue Fountain Media commissioned an online study conducted by Harris Poll, from September 18-22 among 2,016 adults ages 18 and older (of whom 1,313, 69 percent, shop for Halloween). Our findings are extremely interesting, particularly when it comes to the benefits of online Halloween shopping and how people prefer to receive Halloween-related advertising. In order to break everything down and make our study a bit more digestible we've compiled all of our findings into the fun, spooky, easy-to-read haunted house infographic below:

Halloween Shopping How American Adults Prefer to Buy Online

Halloween Shopping Trends

While a staggering 94 percent of Halloween shoppers prefer to go to a physical store to do their Halloween purchasing, 27 percent indicate that they prefer to shop online - a group of people that is largely made up of millennials and others younger than 45. 20 percent also indicate that they prefer to do this online shopping through online-only retailers such as Amazon.com, Ebay.com, and Etsy.com, while 18 percent prefer to make Halloween purchases through online retailers like PartyCity.com, Target.com, and Walmart.com. Millennials who shop for Halloween (41 percent) are more likely than older adults ages 35+ (19 percent) to prefer to make Halloween purchases through online retailers.

The Benefits of Online Shopping

Based on the survey, those who preferred to shop on line largely attributed it to the free shipping, which according to 57 percent of American adults who shop for Halloween is the most valuable asset about shopping online this time of year. Other reasons cited include a wider selection of products/retailers (50 percent), lower prices (47 percent), time savings (46 percent), comparing prices from different online retailers (41 percent) and ease of shopping (40 percent). These numbers highlight the importance of making online shopping available to potential customers, but also making sure that it is a quick and easy process for users to find what they need. Businesses that are trying to create online sales for Halloween need to be sure to provide users with some of these benefits in order to help guarantee that sales are made. The task of selling Halloween products online is already a challenging one due to online shopping's disadvantage with in-store product purchases - business owners can make this task much less difficult by providing online shoppers the sorts of benefits they find most valuable.

Halloween Advertisements

Half (51 percent) of Halloween shoppers prefer print advertisements promoting Halloween-related goods, whether it's newspaper ads, magazine ads, or catalogs. Three out of ten (29 percent) adults prefer to receive email marketing, and about 20 percent of shoppers consider social media to be their channel of preference when it comes to receiving Halloween-related ads. For online and offline retailers alike specializing in Halloween related products or services, keep in mind the needs of your audience and how the desired advertising platforms can be integrated into your marketing plans. In breaking down our findings by age and gender, we found some interesting insights and recurring trends when it came to overall preferences with advertisements. Younger Halloween shoppers within the 18-34 age range are more likely to prefer TV advertisements (46 percent) and social media advertisements (36 percent) than those age 35 and older (30 percent TV ads; 10 percent social media ads). When it comes to female vs. male shoppers, we found that women are more likely to prefer print advertisements than men (55 percent compared to 47 percent) and email ads and promotions (34 percent compared to 25 percent). For younger age groups, taking advantage of television and social media ads makes the most sense, as those are the platforms that they interact with on a regular basis regardless of any upcoming holiday. The same logic is also true for older samplings of people. By understanding how your target audience behaves throughout the rest of the year, it can be very easy to predict and anticipate their actions during your peak season.


40 percent of US adults who shop for Halloween begin shopping for Halloween in early October, and a small group (4 percent) begin shopping in August or before. 74 percent of US adults who shop for Halloween begin shopping in October, with 40 percent starting the first week in October. 22 percent start Halloween shopping in September and a small group (4 percent) begin shopping in August or earlier. Within the study, we found some significant numbers for those who like to wait a little bit to do their shopping as well. 21 percent wait until the week before Halloween to make their purchases, 10 percent start shopping a few days before the 31st, 2 percent start just one day before, and a small 1 percent begin on Halloween day. Those aged 18-44 tend to be ahead of the game when it came to shopping, of which 32 percent say they start shopping before October. Women shoppers (44 percent) are far more likely than men (36 percent) to start shopping in early October, and men are two times more likely to do their shopping last minute, only a few days prior to the holiday (14 percent vs. 7 percent).

Final Thoughts

Halloween is the unofficial kickoff to the entire "holiday season". Though we take notice when Halloween products arrive in stores earlier and earlier each year, it is clear that consumers are taking advantage of this and starting to get their shopping done sooner rather than later. With the consistent growth of the digital marketplace, we see this making an impact on the shopping habits of millennials and younger adults. It is a quick and easy way for people to get what they need without having to leave their (haunted) house. As the increasingly online generation of younger consumers grows older, their shopping trends should be an essential consideration while creating your marketing plan for the Halloween season.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Blue Fountain Media from September 18-22, 2015 among 2,016 adults ages 18 and older (of whom 1,313 (69 percent) shop for Halloween). This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete research method, including weighting variables, please contact 212-260-1978

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