Unwrapping Halloween: Candy, Kids and Shopping Behavior

Assuming I can avoid the treats until halloween :) On another note... I have decided to rename what I do to "photoadayish" as that is more accurate haha.

When we go trick-or-treating with our children or grandchildren, each house has an overflowing bowl of candy, along with the occasional stickers, pencils and erasers. We make sure the kids say “trick-or-treat” and “thank you,” and we move on to the next house so the kids can add to their Halloween loot.

Of course, here at InfoScout, we see that giant bowl of candy and want to know the story behind it. We analyzed receipt images of purchase data captured by our proprietary mobile apps during Halloween shopping occasions throughout the month of October. We broke them down into two categories: early bird shoppers, who shopped October 1-15, and last minute shoppers, who shopped October 16-31. We also wanted to find out the impact of having kids on those shopping trips.

There was no significant difference between early bird and last minute shoppers in terms of demographics such as gender, ethnicity, generation, income or education level. We also noticed consistency in four key metrics:

  • Percentage of Households Buying One Brand: 39% for early bird, 43% for last minute
  • Average Number of Candy Units per Trip:1 for both early bird and last minute
  • Average Candy Spend per Trip: $5.04 for early bird, $5.75 for last minute
  • Average Basket Size: $53.93 for early bird, $53.05 for last minute

The small increase in candy spend per trip for last minute shoppers suggests that these customers didn’t have time to look for the best deals. They likely either had to buy whatever candy was available at stores where they were shopping for other things, or just take whatever candy was left, even if it was a little more expensive.

One obvious takeaway from these four metrics is that the money spent on candy only represents about 10% of total spend during these shopping trips. So what exactly are these Halloween shoppers buying?

Early Bird Halloween Shoppers

Looking across all early bird shoppers, we see the candy brands we are all familiar with being bought the most.

halloween-candy-early-bird-last-minute

Customer affinity was highest for the following product categories during early bird shopping trips:

  • Party Favors
  • Marshmallows
  • Stickers
  • Meat and Poultry
  • Snack Mixes
  • Indoor Decor
  • Writing Supply
  • Paper Tableware
  • Cake Toppings

High affinity for products such as party favors, meat and poultry, indoor décor and writing supplies would indicate that many early bird shoppers were planning to host a Halloween party, which would typically occur during the week before Halloween.

Last Minute Halloween Shoppers

M&M’s was the clear candy winner of the Halloween shopping season, finishing in first place by a relatively large margin among both early bird and last minute shoppers.

Customer affinity was highest for the following product categories during last minute shopping trips:

  • Party Favors
  • Bowls
  • Snack Mix
  • Diet Food/Drink
  • Paper Tableware
  • Plastic Containers
  • Straws
  • Cake Toppings
  • Boys/Girls Tops and Bottoms

Clearly, there is some overlap between products purchased by both early bird and last minute shoppers as many of these products are typically found in the same or nearby aisles during the weeks leading up to Halloween.

How Kids Impact Shopping Trips

halloween-candy-shoppers-kids-trips

Interestingly, the amount spent on candy dropped when children were present, but the average basket ring increased across the board. This would indicate that parents shopping with kids may have tried to avoid candy aisles, but increased their purchases of other items.

M&M’s still rules the day, whether kids are present or not. The top candy brands continue to capitalize on their heritage and brand recognition. While Twix was introduced to American consumers in 1979, the other candy brands purchased most often during the Halloween season – M&M’s, Hershey, Snickers, Kit Kat and Reese’s – are at least 75 years old. All are owned by either Hershey or Mars.