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Halloween

Halloween around the world9 min read

9 min read

Whilst Halloween falls on October 31st and remains one of the most popular holidays in Western countries, there are many unique differences to how and when Halloween is celebrated in various markets around the world. With a little help from our Croudie Network, in true Halloween spirit, we’ve shared some of the most interesting Halloween celebrations across the globe.

China

Whilst Halloween in China might not conjure up the familiar haunted houses and jack-o-lantern carvings, interestingly, ‘trick-or-treat’ and costume parties are becoming increasingly popular over the last few years, especially in Beijing and Shanghai. In fact, in recent years, China has combined Halloween with cultural traditions to create two Halloween-related festivals within the month of October; ‘Ten Chieh’ and ‘Tomb Sweeping Festival’ which are both aimed at commemorating deceased relatives and loved ones through various rituals, including burning paper money, paper accessories and others, as a gift to their loved ones in the afterlife.

The rise of Halloween in recent years has also caught the attention of brand marketing within China. Brands are using digital to give Chinese consumers experiences, including the use of AR and VR to emulate some of the ‘spooky’ traditions followed by Chinese locales.

Social media is heavily used to entice consumers into entering seasonal promotions, with WeChat being utilised with huge prominence. China’s ghostly traditions have attracted the attention of brands looking to stand out within the saturated Halloween market too.

Mexico

Halloween in Mexico is often overshadowed by their local festival ‘Dia de los Muertos’ commonly known as ‘Day of the Dead’ which is also a national holiday and is celebrated at large by most of the population.

‘Dia de los Muertos’ is known as a day of remembrance, happiness and celebrations, with many hosting picnics beside their relatives graves, or creating altars called ‘ofrendas’ at their homes, which are stocked with their loved one’s favourite foods, drinks, their photos and other memories, as well as candles and marigolds –  a flower long associated as the official flower of Dia de los Muertos.

Brands looking to reach the Mexican market have also started to embrace Mexican Halloween festivals. Last year, Spotify created a massive floral display using marigolds across the Los Angeles cemetery in honour of Mexican-American musician Jenni Rivera.

Austria

Whilst Halloween is celebrated very similarly to western traditions, Austria also celebrates Kürbisfest, also known as the Pumpkin Festival in Rezter Land. As well as this, on November 11, Austria celebrate Martini, which includes dressing up in costumes and processions with lanterns. Some people in Austria believe that if they leave bread, water and a lighted lamp out, dead souls will be welcomed back to the earth for that night. 

With regards to digital marketing however, whilst 79% of the population currently use the internet regularly, digital marketing only captures 20% of the media market in Austria. This means digital advertising is not heavily used at the same level as traditional marketing, which is important to consider specifically during seasonal periods like Halloween and ‘Martini’.

Nonetheless, brands looking to break into the digital landscape by capitalising on seasonal periods including Halloween should choose to use social media over other digital channels, as consumer media consumption is heavier on these platforms.

Ireland

Halloween is considered to have originated in Ireland. The Púca festival’ which will take place from the 31st of October to 2nd of November, highlights the Celtic folklore character, Púca, who is believed to come alive on Halloween, changing the fortunes of those who cross it and immersing them in the true spirit of the occasion. 

Therefore the Púca festival’ includes music, light and a harvest-like experience. Furthering this, the Irish traditionally eat a fruitcake called ‘barmbrack’ on Halloween, which traditionally will have a treat baked inside the cake and depending on what the treat is, will foretell the future of whoever receives it. 

Digital marketing in Ireland is on the rise. Last year, the communications group Core predicted that digital advertising spends in Ireland would increase by 20% by 2020, with a core focus on automation, social media and brand awareness. For this reason, particularly during Halloween and other seasonal periods, we can expect to see brands taking a more cross-channel approach, integrating paid and organic social, utilising influencer marketing in order to merge out-of-home and online efforts.

Romania

People from all around the world would flock to celebrate Halloween at Vlad ‘The Impaler’ Tepe’s renowned and purported home in Bran Castle, Transylvania, Romania.

Whilst rumours suggest that this was never actually Dracula’s castle, and a long-running debate over whether he’s even visited the castle, Transylvania, Romania continues to follow its own traditions for Halloween, with it being a high tourism event for the country. A number of travel guides prepare for the busy Halloween season, with inclusive packages to Romania readily available during this period, as well as various parties planned at Count Dracula’s castle during Halloween.

So far in 2019, ad spend in Romania amounts to $381m USD with the market’s largest segment being search advertising. For this reason, brands looking to leverage on seasonal periods such as Halloween and Christmas will be able to successfully implement targeted and integrated digital advertising strategies in order to reach Romanian consumers.

Cambodia

From the end of September to the mid-October, Buddhist families in Cambodia gather together to celebrate Pchum Ben, a religious holiday which commiserates the dead. As part of the tradition, relatives will gift foods such as sweet sticky rice and beans wrapped in banana leaves whilst visiting temples to offer baskets of flowers as a way of paying their respects to their deceased ancestors.

Whilst digital marketing may not hold as large a market share in Cambodia as it does in other markets across the world, around 80% of the population in Asia prefer mobile over desktop for internet usage. So there is definitely still scope for brands to reach Cambodian consumers through digital advertising, specifically during seasonal periods such as Halloween and Christmas.

Nigeria

The Awuru Odo Festival in Nigeria marks the return of dearly departed friends and family members back to the living. Lasting up to six months, the holiday is celebrated with feasts, music and masks before the dead return to the spirit world. Although the Odo Festival is an important ritual, it only happens once every two years, when it is believed the spirits will return to Earth.

78% of Nigeria websites got more traffic to their websites using video formats, and according to Impact, chatbots are set to hit 80% of Nigerian business by the end of 2020. The use of digital in Nigeria is growing, and therefore, brands can utilise more upcoming technologies and innovations to help establish their brand presence within this market, particularly during high sales periods such as Halloween or Awuru Odo Festival in Nigeria.

United Kingdom

The origins of Halloween in the UK can be traced back to another ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (not to be confused with the aforementioned Púca festival). The festival symbolised the boundary between the world of the living and the world of the dead. It was believed by the Celts that on the night of the 31st of October, ghosts of their dead would revisit the mortal world and large bonfires were lit in each village in order to ward off any evil spirits that may be at large. 

However, modern-day Halloween celebrations in the UK generally involves bobbing for apples in water, telling ghost stories, the carving of faces into hollowed-out vegetables such as pumpkins and groups of children dressed in scary costumes roaming from house to house, demanding ‘trick-or-treat’.

Last year, UK consumers were forecasted to spend a staggering £419 million during Halloween, with predictions expecting this to rise by 5% this year. The prevalence of traditions such as costume wearing within the UK has provided online retailers such as Amazon with the opportunity to maximise on Halloween.

It is highly likely that online fancy dress retailers will see a surge in sales during the Halloween and Christmas sales period, but brands can maximise on this by adapting their digital advertising strategies to capitalise on current market traditions to reach relevant audiences.

America

Halloween in the US can be traced back to the American colonist, most of whom were Puritans who journeyed from England. As those in the UK celebrated the Celtic festival of Samhain (see the UK section above), the first celebrations in the US would have been based on the same practices. However, as American colonies were heavily influenced by all different cultures, it wasn’t long before traditions and celebrations began to change.

In the mid-1800s Irish immigrants began moving to the US and as Celtic people also lived in Ireland, they brought their Halloween traditions with them. This included dressing up, playing pranks, asking neighbours for food and money. American’s started doing the same, and soon ‘trick or treating’ was born.

Saying that,  in actual fact, the tricks were more prominent, and rowdy pranks became expensive and costly, especially in major cities. Over time, cities began organising tamer, family orientated Halloween events, and the modern idea of ‘trick-or-treat’ was born.

In New York, pop-up fancy dress shops open across the city in preparation for the day, whilst the annual Village Halloween Parade, which began in 1973, has over 50,000 participants and draws crowds in excess of 2 million – making it the largest Halloween Parade in the world.

Research suggests that American spend about $87 per person on Halloween merchandise which is largely more than the average $5 spend per person to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. The US total spend on Halloween this year is expected to be roughly $8.8 billion. So the popularity of Halloween is continuing to increase year-on-year, with it becoming the second-largest commercial holiday in the US.


For this reason, it is pivotal that brands take advantage of this season to help build momentum before the holiday season is in full swing. An example of this is ‘The Millie & Max campaign‘ from M&M’s. They created a series of 30-second animated videos released across social media which were ghost-themed and encouraged users to engage with their campaign through their choose-your-own-adventure voting function, which kept audiences engaged for weeks!

Happy Halloween to everyone! To find out more about our Croudie Network or about Croud get in touch.