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Halloween Grows Up Online

Mar 1, 2007

Halloween has always been a seasonal marketplace about costumes, decorations, parties and candy. Remember when all of those things were almost exclusively for the kids? Of course you do. You should be aware that now the season has dramatically tilted towards an adult marketplace.

Today, most reports say that costumes for grownups and teenagers account for approximately 65 percent of the niche share. These reports may actually be conservative, says William Lezubski, publisher of the content site, 1st-In-Halloween-Costumes.com in Surrey, British Columbia. "About 80 percent of the people I see coming through my website who are looking for costumes are searching for adult items," he said. "This market niche has been growing and changing for quite a few years now. The web has definitely not hindered the trend. Rather, it has aided it because people can now shop at work for Halloween, and that was not true 15 years ago."

Indeed, while there are fun kids oriented products that blink, move and/or make spooky noises, some of the fastest growing items these days look a lot less like Herman Munster and a lot more like Victoria's Secret. This is all good news for marketers, since the season has diversified and grown exponentially.

Specifically, wholesalers and retailers with the right kind of sultry products are bound to have scary good sales. After all, consumers are expected to spend more than $5 billion this Halloween, up significantly from just $3.29 billion a couple of years ago.

Kinky Trick-or-Treats
Lezubski said that a subtrend within the larger trend of adults celebrating Halloween is also growing every year: women buying sexy costumes. He said that the, "Sex Costumes," channel at www.1st-in-halloween-costumes.com has become his most popular.

"I think it is very similar to sex toys," Lezubski explained. "Consumers want to be something they cannot be the whole year, but they also want to be discreet. Shopping on the web is the perfect way to find the look they want, and also not have to shop for it in public. It is too embarrassing for a lot of people to go into a racy store or lingerie shop, and they will be uncomfortable trying them on even in those settings. So the Internet is the perfect solution for the problem, in the case of someone who wants to buy a nurse's costume, but just not in public."

InterTradeCorp.com represents one web wholesaler taking advantage of this rising marketplace. In addition to Halloween body lights and flashing pins for all ages, the firm offers a sexy witch costume (item #HC#23560) for $11.52 to $14.40 apiece, depending on the volume ordered.

"We did very well with the costumes last year, and we expect to see the business continue to grow this year," said a customer service manager with InterTradeCorp.com in Cheverly, MD. "The sales in this area just keep getting better and better. They are getting to know us because of advertising that we do in places like WholesaleCentral.com."

Halloween Moves To Hollywood
A healthy portion of the Halloween market features licensed characters from pop culture. Working nine months in advance can be problematic, though, especially if a hot item breaks late.

Yet according to licensed products experts, there's a sunny forecast this year for wholesalers and retailers that are looking to score with movie related items. On the horizon lies a wave of installations from an already proven series of movies, comic books or animated shows. For instance, the month of May will bring Spider Man and Shrek back to the big screen, the superhero ensemble known as the Fantastic Four will headline June, and The Simpsons and Harry Potter will dual at the box office in July.

And do not underestimate Generation X's propensity for irony when it comes to the July 4th premiere of the 1980s robot cartoon, The Transformers. It is worth noting that Optimus Prime, the lead animated character in the action flick, will likely be a hit with the costumed kids and adults on Halloween evening. Many wholesalers are already well into the act. To see just a couple of examples, go to www.wholesalecentral.com, search, "The Transformers," or, "Fantastic Four," and find EE Distribution's great collections for both movies.

"Hollywood has always been a big driver of licensed products based on the summer blockbusters," said Jack Aaronson, president of The Aaronson Group in New York. "It is a safe bet that some, but not necessarily all, of the proven movie brands will pan out for those who do the best marketing for Halloween."

Retailers and distributors tending to their Halloween licensed goods niche can also look into liquidated costumes and accessories for a lucrative return on investment. Certainly, there will be wholesalers looking to move popular leftovers from last year, as well as overstocked 2007 product in early to late fall. After all, everyone loves a great price point on an attractive product.

"Not surprisingly, we do well in Halloween products that are value driven and low priced," said Rob Goone, marketing director for H&J Liquidators in Franklin Park, IL, as well as at www.surplus.net/hj. "Disney products that do not have to be brand new do well, along with blinking novelties and unusual items in the Halloween vain. Whether it is the product of a Hollywood movie or not, anything that is licensed can command a better price and more credibility."

Toys Rev Up Fun
R.E. Greenspan has always been a trusted wholesaler that offers unique, if not flashy gadgets, for all seasons on the calendar. So it is not shocking that the company has up its sleeve an item that is part trick, part treat and a whole lot of fun for Halloween at www.regreenspan.com/store.cfm.

Check out the wholesaler's, "Phantom on a Motorcycle," item, which includes a revving engine, as the bike rocks side to side with the spookily hooded and draped skeleton rider swaying realistically. As has been a bit of a tradition with the company, R.E. Greenspan's toy has an element of audio interaction.

The skeleton rider sings, "Disco Inferno," as his motor sounds and his headlights flash. The item, which was a huge hit last year, comes with batteries in, "try me," boxes that are packed six pieces per case for $94.50 (or $15.75 individually).

"We have seen the, 'Phantom on a Motorcycle,' do well with all kinds of gift shops," said Robert Greenspan, president of R.E. Greenspan in Philadelphia, PA. "And of course, there are Halloween shops that are picking it up even more so. What makes the product effective in a store is the fact that the shopper can get a feel for its activation and sound. Moving forward, it is this time of year where we really see orders for Halloween pick up. The season has treated us well over the years, and sales have been growing annually at about a 10 to 15 percent clip."

Forecasting Halloween '07
As the adage goes, sometimes the best way of predicting the future is investigating the past. At the end of last year, the retailer, New York City Costumes, released its Top 10 sellers list for men's, women's and children's costumes.

Since the company is one of the biggest Halloween retailers in the country's most trend-setting city, its results are definitely worth a gander for marketers up and down the coasts and in the heartland. But looking at the lists is also relevant when you consider the potential opportunities to sell proven products at the best prices from liquidators like H&J Liquidators. Some of the items below are still in stock somewhere from last season.

In addition, it is safe to say that most Halloween trends do not just disappear in 12 months. For instance, look how Buzz Lightyear was popular among kids for several years.

Companies included in this story:

8110 120 "A" Street
Surrey, British Columbia V3W 3P3
Tel.: 604-543-7267
Website: www.1st-in-halloween-costumes.com

5716 Columbia Park Rd.
Cheverly, MD 20785
Tel.: 301-773-8603/8604
Fax: 301-773-8439
Website: www.intertradecorp.com

The Aaronson Group
666 Greenwich Street, PH-2
New York, NY 10014
Tel.: 212-691-4725
Fax: 917-591-5818
Website: www.aaronsongroup.com

H & J Liquidators
407 Domenic Ct.
Franklin Park, IL 60131
Free: 800-875-7717
Tel.: 630-595-7717
Fax: 630-595-7199
Website: www.surplus.net/hj

R.E. Greenspan Company, Inc.
2100 Byberry Road
Philadelphia, PA 19116-3026
Free: 800-333-0180
Tel.: 215-676-0400
Fax: 215-676-1704
Website: www.regreenspan.com/store.cfm

New York Costumes
104 4th Avenue &
808 Broadway
@11th Street.
New York, NY, 10003
Website: www.newyorkcostumes.com

New York City Costumes 2006 Top Sellers
Top 10 Men's Costumes:

  1. Pirate
  2. Superhero
  3. Vampire
  4. Star Wars
  5. Funny/Comedy
  6. Horror & Gothic
  7. The Matrix
  8. Elvis Presley
  9. Wizard of Oz
  10. Pimp

Top 10 Women's Costumes:

  1. Pirate and Wench
  2. Witches
  3. Superhero
  4. Sexy Costumes
  5. Nurse
  6. Vampiress
  7. Star Wars
  8. Wizard of Oz
  9. Disney Characters
  10. Fantasy & Fairy

Top 10 Children's Costumes:

  1. Princess & Fairy
  2. Wonder Woman Girl's Costume
  3. Superman Muscle Chest Boy's Costume
  4. Green Lantern
  5. Batman
  6. Harry Potter Costumes
  7. Spiderman
  8. Star Wars Costumes
  9. Superhero Flash
  10. Funny/Comedy

Topic: Product Trends

Related Articles: Halloween 

Article ID: 83

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