Halloween: The Perfect Kickoff to the Holiday Season

Halloween is an interesting holiday in the retail world. With retailers anticipating a $9 billion windfall, the day of tricks and treats has become a major shopping event on its own, while also representing an unofficial kickoff for the holiday shopping season. Parents actively seeking that perfect costume for their child are sure to be searching for the perfect seasonal gift just a few weeks later, so what better opportunity to start building a rapport?

With Toys R Us now absent from the playing field, big box stores, online retailers and even local businesses are clamoring to fill the void the giant toy store has left. How can your business get in on the opportunity? Even this late in the game, Halloween is still in play as many parents will wait to take advantage of last-minute deals. Retailers of all sizes still have time to make an impression on shoppers and build that relationship through the months leading into the holiday shopping season. Here’s how:

  • Know your audience: You already know that historic location data is a reliable proxy for behavior. Adults between the ages of 25 and 55 who stop at children’s clothing stores and daycare centers on weekdays are more than likely the parents you’re hoping to target. (Pro tip: Consider attempting to reach these moms or dads shortly after they drop the kids off. They’re more likely to be relaxed and in a shopping state of mind than they after pickup, when they’re heading home after their commute with the kids in tow and wondering what to make for dinner.)
  • Initiate the conversation now: Halloween really is an ideal time to start a relationship with parents in advance of the holidays. While they’re in-market for costumes and candy, why not offer a coupon? If you know a customer has been in your retail store or a competitor’s – and we’ve said this before – “find, segment and target them in real-time with Halloween offers.” If you know they’ve been at a big box store shopping for decorations or candy, you know they’re in-market, so give them a compelling reason to head your way instead. By offering value and convenience when parents need it most, you may just win their business – and their loyalty.
  • Use retargeting to catch them at home: It’s true that the parents are more likely to shop when the kids are at school, but they’re also likely to shop after the kids have gone to bed. Retargeting is an effective way to stay in touch with parents you’ve already “met.” Reach them during prime-time TV hours on any device connected to their wifi network and engage them with longer video ads – they’re more likely to be receptive to formats like this during their down-time.
  • Keep the conversation going: Once you’ve engaged a parent with Halloween offers, sequential messaging is a smart way to keep that prospect engaged through Black Friday. By delivering a relatable, relevant narrative across screens – perhaps about a mom or dad who takes their child trick-or-treating, then delights them with the best present ever two months later – retailers can continue to build a lasting relationship with prospective shoppers. It also gives retailers a great opportunity to share their brand’s values and personality via a clever, creative campaign.
  • Use data to tailor creative: As with any advertising you do, the more relevant you can make your campaigns, the better. Use your historic location data, along with other data sources, to understand who the parents you’re targeting are, how old their children are, and what they like to do. A mom who sits for hours at a taekwondo studio will shop differently than the dad who’s driving to the dance school three times a week or the one who lives at the football field, just as the mom who goes straight home from school drop-off will have different behaviors than the one who goes to the train station. Consider carefully who your audience is, what they might want or need for their family, and how (and when) you can engage them most effectively.

With Halloween just days away, the window of opportunity is closing quickly – and retailers should jump in while they still can. With one major retailer no longer in the market, local businesses have a greater chance than ever before to win both costume and gift shoppers in the final quarter of 2018. Whether you’re a big box store or a Main Street specialty shop, there’s no better time to cross paths with and introduce yourself to parents who are shopping for their children. Deliver convenience, value and reliability now, and you have the chance to win their loyalty through the holiday season.

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