Spirits rise on Halloween

Halloween sees the biggest spikes in spirits sales by 57%, with vodka, liqueurs and speciality drinks being the most popular drinks for spook night. Read all about it and strategic initiatives director Rachel Weller's tricks and treats to win on this day.
CGA’s strategic initiatives director, Rachel Weller

Midweek sales should get a boost next week as pubs, bars and restaurants join in the Halloween celebrations—but brands will only feel the benefit if their activations are on point.

CGA’s Trading Index shows that drinks sales by value received an 11% uplift on the day of Halloween (31 October) in 2018, compared to the average equivalent day. That performance also marked a 22% hike on 2017’s Halloween—a sign that the day is a more and more significant event in the on-trade.

Fittingly on such a ghostly occasion, spirits tend to get the biggest upswing in sales, with average value sales up 57% against the average equivalent day in 2018, and vodka, liqueurs and specialities delivering the best rates of sale. In contrast, beer sales increased by just 2.3%, suggesting that Halloween night is a high tempo occasion that suits shots, bombs and cocktails better than long drinks.

Trading Index also reveals the halo effect of Halloween, with a double-digit uplift in spirits rate of sale continuing into the adjacent weekend in 2018. With Halloween falling on a Thursday this year, there is an even better opportunity for pubs and bars to extend the celebrations and drinks promotions right through next week.

CGA’s consumer research confirms the soaring popularity of Halloween as a social event. More than one in five (21%) late-night consumers went out for it in 2018—putting it behind only New Year’s Eve, Christmas Eve and bank holidays as a special drinking-out occasion.

But maximising sales requires a detailed knowledge of the target market. Two in five (40%) late-night Halloween consumers are aged 18 to 24, and two in three (68%) are female, and while students over-index too, the majority of participants have white-collar jobs. These consumers have cash in their pockets as well, with an average monthly spend on eating and drinking out of £125, compared to the £107 average.

Halloween provides a perfect opportunity for the on-trade to develop the kind of experience-led nights out that consumers increasingly demand. Beyond drinks and food, themed evenings, games, immersive storytelling and virtual reality activities can all create USPs in this competitive market.

With four in five (84%) consumers on a night out now uploading photos to social media, the fancy dress aspect of Halloween is a great chance to get brand exposure too. That, though, can only be achieved if pubs, bars and drinks brands deliver the all-important ‘Instagrammability’—environments and activations that encourage drinkers to take and share their snaps.

It all adds up to a very lucrative opportunity for operators and drinks suppliers alike, but with such a narrow window of opportunity, the planning and executing of strategies has to be sharp.

To learn more about how CGA’s data and analysis can help to optimise the return on investment from your activations, contact Rachel Weller.

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