How retailers can harness Halloween to drive engagement

Each year Halloween generates a huge amount of hype among consumers, making it a pivotal holiday for retailers.

Indeed, Halloween sales continue to grow, generating £310m in 2016, increasing to £320m in 2017, according to Mintel. But how can retailers continue to drive awareness and footfall during this competitive retail period?

One of the answers lies in the growing consumer appetite for ‘experiential’ shopping. At a time when the UK’s high street is under threat with an estimated 100,000 shops set to close by 2022 according to Retail Research, experiential retail – especially when combined with key seasonal moments like Halloween – should remain a priority for retailers.

But what does this look like in practice? Here are three examples of how retailers can stay ahead of the curve this Halloween:

Tap into consumer trends

Knowing what shoppers care about and tapping into their emotions is important when it comes to creating experiences they will enjoy and remember. For example, consumers are becoming more conscious about how their purchases affect the environment, which is in turn impacting where they buy from. As a result, retailers have been encouraged to respond to this growing trend – whether that’s Morrisons’ Wonky Veg initiative or WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign.

In the same way, Tesco applied this logic to Halloween back in 2016 when it launched its ‘pumpkin rescue mission’, which aimed to prevent waste by introducing stations where customers could recycle their used pumpkins. These stations were opened across north London and became a great way to engage with customers and drive footfall at the same time as shining a light on the brand’s eco credentials.

Embrace wider cultural phenomena

Retailers should also consider how wider cultural phenomena could fit into their Halloween plans, as this can be a great way of bringing together people with a shared interest. A great example of this was Topshop, who last year created a collection that was inspired by the Netflix original series Stranger Things.

The collection was exclusively held at Topshop’s flagship Oxford Street store, and well-known sets and scenes were recreated in-store while exclusive screenings of the new series were offered to the public. By offering something unique that shoppers couldn’t find elsewhere, Topshop was able to benefit from the growing popularity of Stranger Things to drive footfall while building a sense of community.

In fact, busy periods like Halloween can be a great moment to amplify video content in-store, to better engage customers at the point of sale and help reduce the impact of longer queueing times. Recent research from Qudini suggests that retailers lose 10% of footfall due to queues and wait times in store, so it’s incredibly important that retailers address this challenge with a viable solution.

In a world where we interact with screens 24/7, digital signage is a critical channel that offers endless opportunities for seasonal moments like Halloween, Black Friday and Christmas – allowing retailers to quickly customise content and improve the perception of a retailer’s brand personality.

Harness the power of ‘social’

As social becomes an increasingly vital tool for retailers to connect with shoppers – particularly younger shoppers – retailers should consider implementing a social-first strategy in-store this Halloween.

Last year, for example, we worked with a leading supermarket to revamp their audio offering in-store in the run-up to Halloween and ensured there was a strong social element to the campaign.

The Halloween-style takeover across the supermarkets’ stores involved Halloween-themed songs, special DJs, station jingles as well as sounds effects from traditional Halloween characters such as Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster. During the takeover, presenters asked staff and customers to interact with them via social media where they could request songs and participate in the store takeover, resulting in increased social engagement.

In the run-up to Halloween this year, bricks and mortar retailers should think carefully about the best ways to interact with their customers – ensuring they stay on top of consumer trends, remain culturally aware, and of course digitally-savvy. By combining all three elements, retailers can expect a treat this Halloween.

Mood Media offer experiential design and marketing solutions, helping brands connect with their customers by providing music, digital signage, scent, integrated audio visual, and interactive mobile marketing solutions that help to improve customer experience

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