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Halloween was a lot more trick than treat in 2020, with lockdown scuttling much of the merriment. This year, however, there is expected to be a rebound in the treats department, according to Mars Wrigley chief Halloween officer Tim LeBel. He shares his thoughts about the five positive trends driving this year’s holiday season.

Mars Wrigley anticipates a strong 2021, and no matter how you plan to celebrate this Halloween, the treats and snacks company is here to help you with the moments and traditions that make the most of the season. As we plan for Halloween more than a year in advance, here are some trends we’ve noticed for this year’s season.

1. There will be a trick-or-treat rebound

We know, according to recent survey data from the National Confectioner’s Association, that 82% of consumers plan to celebrate Halloween in some way in 2021. In fact, 79% of people say they are likely to participate in trick-or-treating this year, up from 58% in 2020, and also up from 2019 (64% pre-pandemic), per NCA 2021 data.

2. The festivities started earlier

Last year, earlier distribution of product helped drive new ways for consumers to interact with our products. This was particularly driven by a steady trend in people celebrating at home – with people baking treats, enjoying Halloween candy during movie marathons or simply buying candy as a ‘treat yourself’ moment. While we expect a big rebound in trick or treating, we’re seeing consumers continue these at-home rituals and new traditions in 2021 as well.

3. Insights drive a better consumer experience

We love interacting with our fans, and with social media, we’re getting more consumer feedback than ever before – and we take that feedback very seriously as we plan for Halloween. Our latest Halloween innovation Skittles Shriekers was created, in part, as a response to consumer feedback that they really enjoyed our Skittles Zombie over the last couple of years and were seeking a new flavor experience. Skittles Shriekers takes that same surprise-and-delight experience to a new level by hiding a few super sour Skittles in plain sight in each bag.

Trusted, nostalgic brands like M&M’s will always be tied to the season, but consumers still shape how the brands show up on shelves. Consumers love their favorites but still seek variety in flavor and texture. One way we have delivered that is by bringing back consumer favorites like M&M’s Chocolate Popcorn and M&M’s Cookies & Screeem from last year. M&M’s Chocolate Popcorn is back this year after being one of the most searched for new M&M’s items in 2020. M&M’s Cookies & Screeem now has a wider distribution than years past after quickly becoming a consumer favorite.

4. Meaningful connections mean more

We know the past year and a half has highlighted the true importance of community and making meaningful connections with those around you. At Mars Wrigley, we are committed to creating better moments and more smiles, especially for the communities where we live and work. This year, with 45% of people planning to attend a community Halloween party, we’ll be helping our local communities – Chicago, Newark, Washington DC and Toronto – safely celebrate the season. Our hope is to bring Halloween celebrations to the backyards of the places we both live and work. 

5. Digital solutions support success

We’re continuing to see digital emerge as a new way to engage with consumers, especially coming out of 2020 where e-commerce reigned supreme. Mars Wrigley has developed partnerships that allow us to make sure our product is where our consumers are to make it easy to find their favorites for any type of celebration. One partnership, through Shipt, delivers goods straight to consumers’ doors. This partnership goes beyond offering product on the platform, as the two brands have collaborated on a candy ‘heat map’ showcasing what Mars Wrigley products are most popular in each state. Mars Wrigley and Shipt have also developed and released a formula for buying the perfect amount of candy for trick-or-treaters.

Through the pandemic, the use of voice devices increased exponentially. This year we are excited to be piloting our first ever Halloween voice activations for Mars Wrigley. For example, we’re bringing our new Skittles Shriekers to life with a spine-tingling branded alarm on Amazon Alexa, since alarms are a top way people use their voice devices.

The omnichannel and digital approach to the season ensures consumers always have the products they need to be the best house on the block.

Tim LeBel is chief Halloween officer at Mars Wrigley.

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