Understanding Consumer Keyword Searches In Halloween Shopping Trends


Mike Pedersen, co-founder and CEO, AdAdapted, discusses the importance of understanding consumer keyword searches in focusing Halloween advertising.

Cleveland — With the scariest holiday right around the corner, candy will soon become top-of-mind as consumers prepare for this Spooktacular event. Last year, Halloween took the lead as the largest candy sales amongst candy-consuming holidays. It was also the peak of consumers’ candy purchasing activity as demonstrated by their grocery list building activity on mobile grocery list apps, with “candy” list activity for Halloween doubling that of Easter, Christmas and Valentine’s Day holidays.

While heightened consumer interest in candy during Halloween isn’t a surprise, there are other hidden trends that are important to shine a light on as CPG marketers prepare their Halloween strategy. To gather insights, AdApapted looked at consumers’ online grocery baskets in shopping list apps between September and October 2020, searching the keywords “Halloween Candy” and “Candy.”

Between the two phrases, results diverged, showing different types of shoppers for each keyword search. These small discrepancies inform how CPGs can best target consumers based on keyword triggers as Halloween 2021 approaches. 

‘Halloween Candy’ Consumers Want Treats

While we know that consumers are adding candy to their Halloween grocery list, it’s also important to see what is being purchased alongside Halloween intended candy.

When looking at basket add-to-list analysis, those who searched the keywords “Halloween Candy” leading up to the holiday last year also bought three additional categories: kids’ food, baking and snacks. This indicates that this category of consumers is buying Halloween candy as an addition to their typical shopping trip. While they are purchasing staple snacks and baking goods, they’re also snagging a few bags of Halloween candy in the process.

As a result, CPG brands and retailers can use this information to better target and influence the right consumers by promoting candy alongside these other category items. That way, shoppers who are searching “Halloween candy” are also targeted with kids’ food, baking and snack items, increasing efficiency and the impact of their digital campaigns.

‘Candy’ consumers want event-ready items for the costume party

On the other hand, those searching the keyword “candy” appear to be buying event-ready items alongside their candy purchases, including sweets, items for cookouts and party foods. Sweets include cookies, marshmallows, donuts, and Oreos. The top cookout foods included baked beans, hot dogs, soup, and chili. The last category is party foods such as soda, chips, drinks, snacks, nuts, pretzels, popcorn, and Doritos. 

The main goal of ‘candy’ consumers was to make a specific grocery trip for an upcoming social gathering or event, with quick and pre-made items ready for hosting a large group. This is valuable insight for CPG brands and retailers who can now align their promotions for these categories accordingly, such as placing a promotion for a party assortment of cookies when someone searches the word “candy,” on grocery lists and in mobile carts.

Improved Halloween Ad Strategy With Grocery List Analysis

Grocery list activity can unearth key affinities between consumers and their grocery shopping tendencies. From past shopping list data, we can see that consumers who conjured up these tricks or treats on their grocery lists had different agendas. Even with a small change in keyword from “Halloween candy” to “candy,” CPG marketers can learn quite a bit about what the consumer is thinking or planning to do.

Along with data from last year’s Halloween, brands and retailers also have an opportunity to reach their ideal consumers in a targeted way by using shopping list marketing to predict future in-store sales and get a real-time read on consumer purchase activity before they enter the store.

With this data, they can further understand why a particular product is performing in a certain way and how that brand compares to broader category trends in real-time. They can also see which specific products within a category a shopper plans to buy before sales data is even available.

Equipped with a deep understanding of consumer behavior, CPG candy brands and retailers can rest assured that they have what they need to develop smarter, more targeted marketing strategies and win over consumers this Halloween.

Mike Pedersen

Contributor Info: Mike Pedersen is the co-founder and CEO of AdAdapted, where he has led the company to become a leading shopping list marketing mobile advertising and insights platform built for CPG, brands, agencies and retailers. He started his career as an engineer, working in a variety of mediums as a software and web developer. He then joined Platform Architect, a word-of-mouth marketing platform, in a sales and engineering role. Through his years of experience, Mike brings a wealth of expertise on ad tech tools and add-to-list technology to help brands reach the right shopper at the right time.