*The following op-ed originally appeared in Confectionery News on August 25, 2020.
As the conversation in the media and in our communities around Halloween and whether or not it is canceled continues, I want to share a simple but important thought with the industry and our retail partners as we move into the next several weeks of our annual ‘Super Bowl’ moment: Halloween is happening!
You don’t have to take my word for it. From small town mayors to major event organizers, people across the country are examining how to make the Halloween season safe and fun for everyone. Even Hollywood’s original scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis is weighing in, telling The New York Times that Halloween will be different this year, but that doesn’t have to be bad. In fact, she says “different” can lend itself to fun and creativity, saying, “Putting on a costume, whether or not you’re running around on the streets or in your own home … is the fun part.”
She’s right. It’s no secret that Halloween is going to look very different this year, but it’s not necessarily the case that people will have to sit out the fun traditions associated with celebrating the Halloween season. As one CNN.com article noted, the industry is up and out early with seasonal products, and retailers are embracing this activation by executing seasonal displays.
And that makes sense, because consumers want something to look forward to this fall. An independent survey from Insight to Action found that 70% of moms plan to celebrate the Halloween season with their children this year. This reflects our research that found that 74% of millennial moms and young parents say that Halloween is more important than ever this year.
Let’s be honest – people across the country are looking for ways to add some normalcy and joy to what has been a very serious and uncertain time.
Every community is going to celebrate Halloween differently, and Halloween celebrations will vary based on community safety concerns. Importantly, the optimism for this special and fun moment remains very high for consumers. We found in our research with Morning Consult that 63% of adults believe that people will find creative, fun and safe ways to celebrate the Halloween season this year.
Safe ways to celebrate the Halloween
Even if trick-or-treating is off the table for some, there are still plenty of fun and unique approaches to enjoying the Halloween season in a way that works for families and keeps them safe – whether it’s having fun from a distance, enjoying Halloween at home or practicing something in between.
Some communities may decide to celebrate Halloween outdoors this year, keeping an adequate distance and wearing a mask so they can embrace classic Halloween traditions in a way fit for the times. The Halloween season has always been about people, traditions and celebrations, and we know the spirit of the holiday will remain strong as families and friends create a new version of Halloween fun. If you decide to have fun from a distance, we want you to celebrate safely, respectfully and mindfully, keeping an eye out for your neighbors and their safety throughout your celebrations.
Other families will opt to stay home during the 2020 Halloween season. Our homes have become so much more to us this year – an office, a classroom and a place for our families to come together during a difficult time. If families aren’t comfortable embarking on the time-honored tradition of trick-or-treating this year, there are always other ways to celebrate at home, like throwing a Zoom costume party, starting a Halloween candy scavenger hunt in the back yard or streaming a favorite Halloween movie.
Just don’t forget the treats! Based on our research, an overwhelming majority of people say they can’t imagine Halloween without chocolate and candy and trick-or-treating is irreplaceable – that includes 80% of the general public and 90% of millennial moms and young parents. This year, it may help to start thinking about Halloween as a month-long celebration rather than just one night of trick-or-treating.
What is important is that families celebrate Halloween in a way that makes them feel safe and comfortable and is in line with recommendations from health authorities. Even as we approach Halloween a little differently this year, we can create a new normal together around celebrating a safe and fun Halloween and keeping longstanding Halloween traditions alive.
To that end, we are providing helpful tips for this Halloween and candy moments throughout the year on AlwaysATreat.com. We are providing consumers inspiration for celebrating the Halloween season creatively and safely at AlwaysATreat.com/HalloweenCentral. While the pandemic continues to keep us apart, treats like chocolate and candy have the ability to keep us connected, and we want to ensure America’s favorite treats will play an even larger role in connecting us at Halloween.
2020 has presented a first for many things in our culture, and Americans are excited for Halloween this year as a break from this radical uncertainty. As consumers begin to create a new normal around Halloween, the uncanny ability of chocolate and candy to boost your mood and lighten your perspective during these uncertain times will continue to be front and center.