COVID has undoubtedly impacted every aspect of American society – including time-honored traditions like Trick or Treating during Halloween. However, for those kids and parents who have found ways to continue the experience in the safest possible manner, we recently sat down with Rigo Viezca, Global Head of Food and Beverage Solutions at Signals Analytics, to get some insight on what the haul will be for all those Super Heroes, Princesses and Exotic Animals (based on historical data from what's been on the other side of my door) making the rounds this year.
Jeff Reinke, Editorial Director: Can you tell me about the changing expectations and demands that consumers want from their Halloween candy?
Rigo Viezca, Global Head of Food and Beverage Solutions - Signals Analytics: We’re seeing that some trends are popping up year over year when it comes to Halloween candy purchases, but we can’t deny that this year will look different than years past due to the COVID world we live in. Some cities are discouraging trick-or-treating, but candy will still be a central theme for Halloween 2020. However, the way people are purchasing and thinking about candy has changed.
We’ve seen less social discussion about Halloween this year, but at the same time, there has been an uptick in review engagement. Consumer expectations on product benefits are on the rise, and this is informing how they are making purchase decisions - even for candy. In fact, from a retailer perspective, customers are reviewing products related to Halloween online more frequently.
On Amazon, the top reviewed products related to Halloween are Hershey’s, Mars, and Air Head; on Walmart.com, the most popularly reviewed items are Hershey’s, M&M’s, and Twix; on Target.com, the top reviewed items are Mars, Skittles, and Snickers. This indicates that people are spending more time searching and talking about their products through reviews, rather than engaging with others on Twitter or other social platforms about their Halloween plans.
JR: So, which candy do you think will be the most popular this year?
RV: Reese’s is the most popular candy year-over-year, and it’s projected to maintain that position for 2020.
JR: What don’t people want in their candy this year?
RV: Candy shoppers are trying to steer clear of certain product attributes for their Halloween candy, and we’re seeing many of these trends continue year-over-year. Sticky and chalky-textured candies are consumers’ least favorites, and parents are also seeking nut-free options, so nut-focused products will be less in demand.
Variety packs, candy with resealable packing, and individually wrapped items will continue to be popular this year, as those are easy to distribute for trick-or-treaters, if that activity is able to continue in 2020. As a focus on health grows - even around candy - organic and vegan options will lead consumer discussions for Halloween.
JR: What types of trends are you seeing on the purchasing side?
RV: We’re seeing online review engagement increase, and this can be correlated with a larger focus on ecommerce. Since the pandemic, ecommerce has boomed, and consumers will continue to rely on online stores for their purchases, including Halloween.
Also, consumers appear to have spoken less about Halloween on social media in 2019 than they did in 2018. In discussions that did occur, Reese’s and Oreos were the most mentioned items followed by Kit Kats, Snickers, and Hershey’s. The top categories consumers are talking about on social media include sweet and savory snacks, dairy, and bread & bakery items. With limitations around Halloween celebrations this year, we anticipate that social media discussion around Halloween will continue to trend downwards.
JR: What was your favorite candy when you went trick-or-treating?
RV: Large regular size chocolate bars of any types but mostly Snickers.
Editor's note: As a public service for our readership, this editor is more than happy to help dispose of any excess Peanut Butter Cups or Reese's Pieces.