As Halloween draws closer, yesterday I resigned myself to a witching hour of my own making and hit the shops with the 3 monsters to select a variety of spooky outfits, axes and glow in the dark essentials.

With Halloween now ranking as 3rd biggest event in the retail calendar after Christmas and Easter and the 2nd biggest party night after NYE, we weren’t surprised to find an extensive wardrobe and accessory section. Inflatable Frankenstein hat? Check. Dead crow headband? Check. Can’t make my mind up whether I was disappointed or relieved not to see the rubber severed limbs in ASDA this year. Disgusting as they were the boys always thought they made a good Halloween themed light saber.

Obviously the spree did not start and end in the seasonal aisle and we witnessed a range of Halloween inspired NPD throughout the aisles. Mr Kipling’s Chocolate and slime slices. Scarestrings instead of cheesestrings. Scream instead of Soreen. And the usual creepy variations of confectionary to keep the treat tubs full and any thought of tricks eliminated.

What I’m left wondering though is; what’s the next step for brands and retailers to maximize the Halloween opportunity? How can we build on the theme and seasonal NPD to drive purchase intent, sales and loyalty?

Last year Tesco’s ‘Spookermarket’ resulted in them being the most talked about retailer on social – boasting 2 million views in just less than 2 weeks. In the US, retailers such as Target took content such as this one step further and incorporated a direct path to purchase by making products featured in their video shoppable – simply click on in to add to your basket. Ted Baker are currently doing this over here, although not Halloween themed, with a shoppable film allowing views to interact with the content by clicking on ‘plus’ items to add clothing to their shopping bag. Love this approach – convenient, quick and more inspiring than scrolling through pages of product.

For FMCG brands, the theme and packaging change will of course aid standout and drive purchase. But can we build on that to deliver engagement and brand loyalty? On-pack added value promotions can be difficult and costly when taking into consideration the limited window. But I’ve not yet seen any seasonal off-pack promotions exclusive by retailer to give me an extra reason to buy. Or anything so helpful online as US Target’s ‘Treatster’ app – which lets trick or treaters know the best houses to visit in your area. This is genius. Nothing scarier than being faced with a street of houses with their curtains closed when you’re leading a group of excited dressed up kids.

It looks like we’ve still got a bit more work to do if we are to reach the heights of the US when it comes to Halloween tricks. Until then I’ll just be thankful I don’t have to buy another severed limb this year.

Cheesestrings become Scarestrings for Hallloween