Does Your Marketing Trick or Treat Your Customers?

Marketers have numerous tricks for getting their customers to buy, but it’s when they listen to their shoppers’ preferences that the experience is a real treat.

In-store is where nearly all consumers prefer to buy their Halloween costumes and candy. In fact, a new survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of digital agency Blue Fountain Media shows that 94% of the more than 1,300 U.S. adult Halloween shoppers surveyed say they prefer to shop in-store—versus 27% who’d rather shop online. One fifth of respondents enjoy shopping via online-only retailers, such as Amazon or eBay, according to the study, while 18% prefer shopping via online retailers that also have brick-and-mortar presences, like PartyCity.com or Target.com. Consumers were asked to indicate all that apply.

Age plays a role in this split, according to Blue Fountain Media’s Austin Paley. Perhaps not surprisingly, 99% of the respondents 55 and older prefer to make their Halloween purchases in-store, compared to 39% of respondents under 45 who say they’d rather shop online. But Paley, director of corporate marketing, says personalization is an indicator, too.

“Halloween, more than any other holiday—in my mind at least—is one of those holidays where you have to actually go and try on your costume [and] you actually have to go and figure out what kind of candy your kid wants,” he says. “These are things that you have to do in person or at least feel like it’s an individual thing…. It’s really a personalized experience.”

This personalization piece carries over to consumers’ marketing preferences, as well. According to the study, print and TV are the favored methods for learning about Halloween promotions at 51 and 36%, respectively; email (29%) and social (20%) are the preferred digital marketing tactics—beating out radio (12%), banner ads (11%), search engine ads (9%), and text messages (5%). “Those are the two platforms right now that are really more personalized than any of the others,” Paley notes—and therefore more closely mimic the tailored in-store experience.

Marketers can also use the in-store experience to drive digital traffic—and vice versa. Paley cites as an example collecting email sign-ups in-store and then sending customers tailored follow-up messages based on their candy and costume purchases. Conversely, he says emailing customers high-quality costume images with detailed information can drive customers in-store to buy.

“A big part of [getting consumers to visit the store] is having a [digital] experience that really mirrors that in-store experience right out of the gate,” he says.

Once again age can also impact whether consumers have a sweet tooth for a particular channel. Consider the following: Millennials—adults 18 to 34 years old—prefer Halloween TV spots more than their 35 and older peers (46 versus 30%, respectively), according to the study. The gap is even greater when it comes to social media ads. While 36% of millennial respondents prefer social Halloween promotions, only 10% of their older comrades share the same sentiments. Gender can play a role, too; 55% of female respondents say they prefer print advertisements, versus 47% for their male counterparts. Plus, more than a third (34%) of women favor email ads, but only one quarter of male respondents feel the same way.

So, while it may be too late for marketers to adjust their approaches for this Halloween, it looks like they’ll want to add personalization and demographic preferences to next year’s bag of treats.

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