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Trick or Treat? Why It’s Not Too Early to Get Pumped Up for Pumpkin


Partners + Napier VP, CD Peter Vonderlinn reveals why we shouldn’t be outraged at early Halloween grocery store stocking

Trick or Treat? Why It’s Not Too Early to Get Pumped Up for Pumpkin

Ah…hot, hazy August. The month of backyard barbeques….sun tanning at the beach….Halloween shopping…

Wait, WHAT???

As a consumer, I felt outrage at the sight of Halloween merchandise making its debut last week at my local grocery store. Don’t retailers know how precious summer is to all of us living in the chilly U.S. Northeast? How dare they wish it away!

But then the marketer in me took over. Thoughts of savvy cross-promotions and increased basket rings replaced my gall. Suddenly everything made sense. 

So, to all of you still feeling outrage, I’ll quote a character my daughter has already decided will be her costume this Halloween: Elsa from Disney’s Frozen.

Let it go! Let it gooooo!!! 

Like almost everyone else in August, I’m still into sweet corn and sunscreen. But that’s no reason to let premature Halloween retailing bother you like a temperamental poltergeist.

The way I see it, both marketers and consumers can benefit from the early marketing of Halloween. 

Reason #1: The reverse would be so much worse.

Think about the aisles where your favourite retailer stocks the seasonal items. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not stare at stacks of citronella candles, bins of flip-flops and piles of beach balls all the way into late October. That would be a cruel reminder of sultry summer days right about the time Mother Nature is cranking the thermostat to c-c-c-cold.

Reason #2: It amps up the fun factor of shopping.

Retail is no easy gig. Especially brick-and-mortar retail. And hey, I have a 401(k) and two 529 college funds to think about. So I favour anything that helps keep those economy-bolstering registers ringing.

Fun is a major contributor. It’s well documented that when consumers enjoy their shopping experience, they spend more. Now consider two scenarios where you’re shopping for peas.

One involves you and the peas. 

The other involves you, the peas, an Ice Princess, Captain America, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Hellraiser, and the Ninja Turtles.

Need I say more?

Reason #3: We need the extra time.

Would you rather have two weeks to get your kids’ costumes in order? Come on, parents. We all know we’re not going to have it together enough to help our kids grab their Elsa, Spider-Man, and Groot costumes in between doctor appointments, soccer practices, dance classes and homework help. We need the extra time.

In fact, we should be thanking our marketing overlords for making Halloween products available so far in advance. 99 per cent of us are going to rush around to buy what we need at the last minute anyway – and pay a lot more for it – but at least they gave us a fighting chance!

In the multi-billion dollar cauldron of Halloween marketing, it boils down to this…

Retailers aren’t forcing us to buy anything. We’re still educated human beings with free will. We all have the right to decide when we’re damn good and ready to buy our candy corn. 

If you’re not ready to see the Halloween stuff yet, just close your eyes while you shop. Any injuries you may incur will be far less traumatising than encountering Chucky.

Peter Vonderlinn is VP, Creative Director at Partners + Napier

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