Risk aversion, cautious spending, a new normal, reassurance and safety concerns are some changes in consumer sentiments as it regards Halloween in 2020. Hershey's, Party City, Spirit Halloween, and Universal Studios are some of the brands that have been noted to respond to these changes.
- Doug Liberman, President of Splendid Chocolates, notes that parents will be hesitant to bring their children to strangers' houses for trick-or-treating in loom of the COVID-19 pandemic. He assigns this risk aversion to the fact that the Coronavirus is spread primarily through contact, which is inevitable in trick-or-treating.
- Candy Industry's article also goes to note that in these uncertain times of the pandemic, consumers are going "back to basics", where risk aversion will be paramount. This, the article notes, will directly affect their eating and drinking habits.
- Liberman continues to note that consumer spending has stopped for anything that is non-essential, which may include Halloween festivities. He asserts that consumers are now scared and their habits have changed.
- McKinsey's report supports this assertion, as it notes that category spending in American households and the world over, has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the entertainment category, McKinsey found a more than -50% intent by Americans to spend on entertainment outside the home in 2020, part of which may be safely assumed to include Halloween festivities.
- Hershey's and Party City are aware of this, and have anticipated negative impacts on their sales. Hershey's, for example, have begun re-evaluating price points and have activated early Halloween marketing activities to help cushion the anticipated decrease. Party City on the other hand, issued a press statement where it communicated an expected decrease in sales.
- Candy Industry notes that comfort and reassurance are aspects that rank highly to consumers now, as they are keen on maintaining their health and finances in these uncertain times. As Liberman noted, Halloween may be seen as a risky venture, due to contact necessitated by its biggest activity, trick-or-treating.
- Candy Industry further posits that brands need to offer reassurances to their consumers, and Hershey's has taken this concern into account. In this interview, Hershey's notes that it is looking into packaging options to mitigate potential risk factors.
- Mercury News reports that parents will only send out their children for trick-or-treating if it safe for everyone else to do so. One of the parents interviewed noted that they might consider Halloween only if a vaccine or a cure is found in time.
- Pillar Deer, a parent interviewed, notes that she will have to wait and see how the pandemic unfolds before making a decision about Halloween, but also offers that she may be open to trick-or-treating if the protocols of social distancing and wearing of masks is strictly observed. She asserts that "you can always wipe off candy just like groceries".
- Orlando Weekly reports that Universal Studios has not canceled its anticipated Halloween event, Halloween Horror Nights, but instead may implement certain guidelines to ensure the safety of its guests. Social distancing, avoiding the use of props such as ropes, sheets, and inflatable walls that people may touch, the use of virtual queues to reduce standby lines and the number of guests in a maze, and rapid COVID-19 tests are some of the changes proposed.
A New Normal
- Miguel Rodriguez, a parent interviewed by Mercury News, notes that instead of the regular Halloween, kids should dress up and have a "Skype-O-Ween" with friends and family- limiting contact and the spread of the Coronavirus. Additionally, she notes that candy may not be the best for children given the prevailing condition.
- This concept of a new normal for Halloween was well demonstrated on March 31, 2020, which was chosen as the new Halloween date instead of the traditional October 31. A viral post by Women in Parks and Recreation Fcebook Group suggested a "socially-distanced Halloween holiday" to be celebrated on March 31, 2020.
- The post received 800,000 hits with a global reach. Spirit Halloween, an American costume retailer is reported to have picked up on it too.