Has Tech Changed Halloween?
October is more than halfway through, and Halloween is just around the corner. A festival that traces its origins back to the Celts of Europe, many of its customs are ancient (even if their origins are forgotten). But change is inevitable. And in this case, technology has once again changed the face of Halloween. Let’s take a look:
One of the most apparent ways technology has changed Halloween is Social Media. Gone are the days of Polaroid snapshots of everyone in costume sufficing for family memories. Now these photos can be uploaded to Instagram or Facebook and hashtagged for exposure to broader communities: #halloween (121 million Instagram posts), #halloweecostume (9.6 million), and #halloweendecor (3.7 million). Then there are niche interests like #halloweennails (2.2 million), #halloweentattoo (324 thousand), and #halloweencookies (415 thousand).
Social media influencers might revolve their entire Halloween album around a particular aesthetic, using filters to create effects. Memories are no longer just that—they are part of an artistic experience. They generate conversations with comments, and shape the underlying experience itself (e.g. taking selfies and videos to upload on TikTok). For younger consumers, this paradigm is already built into their everyday life. Older consumers may be frustrated with the learning curve of mastering new platforms or feel that they interfere with the experience.
eCommerce has changed the face of retail in general, but it has also changed Halloween. Nearly 30% of Gen Z and Millenial consumers will do most of their Halloween shopping online, and Amazon search data shows that these consumers are shopping earlier—some as early as August. The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that this online shopping will comprise a third of the record-breaking forecast of $12.2 billion in spooky spending this fall. Interestingly, overall consumer spending will be evenly split between costumes, candy, and decor.
The majority of the shopping will still take place in brick-and-mortar retailers, especially Halloween specialty retailers. However, consumers are increasingly looking online for costumes and decor inspiration, because it’s easier to research things they like, and find the best pricing points. One technology accelerating this trend is the integration of platforms like Shopify with Instagram. Social media users can browse through pet costumes (as an example) they might not find at their local drugstore—then, with a simple thumbtap, navigate to a boutique Shopify store.
Apps and Wearable Tech
Wearable technology and smartphone applications have also changed Halloween. Find My Kids is just one of several family GPS applications that allow parents to track their kids. Parents can see in real time where their kids are trick-or-treating. For teenagers, this might mean less worrying than the years before. And for pre-teens, it might mean that parents can stay home instead of hauling all over town for some candy they won’t even get to eat.
Smartphone applications can help parents map out a Halloween route. Google Maps can help plot a route. And when used in conjunction with other apps like the aforementioned Find My Kids, parents can make sure that the kids are sticking to it. The Nextdoor community app can allow households to notify neighbors that they will be passing out candy (or not), creating a community-fostered safety plan. Lastly, there are wearable pieces of hardware like LED wristbands that can make a safer pedestrian experience for everyone.
Gadgets and Decorations
There are some haunted house garage classics that will never go away…like the tactile funhouse of peeled grapes for eyeballs and cold spaghetti for brains. But technology has allowed consumers to notch up their spooky decor. One significant piece of hardware is drones. Drones can facilitate incredible drone displays in the sky. One homeowner in California put on a display of 300 drones for his neighborhood, with the airborne hardware making enormous visuals from Stranger Things and Ghostbusters, all to Metallica’s Master of Puppets.
In other areas of decor, LED lights are safer than actual candles inside of a jack-o-lantern. Philips (the lightbulb company) has created a Halloween Hue App that synchs up with lights to make a dark room (or the side of your house) ambient with visuals and music. This means that with just a smartphone and a few bulbs, homeowners can create a haunted house that in former years would have taken pounds of cardboard and gallons of paint. Want to find the best displays near you? One dad-developer created an app called FrightMaps, where homeowners can submit their addresses for purview (submissions are manually reviewed for safety).
Will your next job be a trick…or treat?
Halloween means that Q4 is accelerating to a close. True, there are two more months after November. But does anybody really get anything done between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve? They do of course, especially if they want to hit or surpass those sales goals. But for the most part, this time of the year is punctuated with periods that are low on work activity, and heavy with egg nog.
This seasonal downtime is the end of the calendar year. For many software sales professionals (account managers and sales managers alike) it’s a time for reflection about the year ahead. Are you starting to think about where you want to be next year? At the same company, or maybe somewhere new? Alternatively, if you’re a manager, have you started to think about what your team is going to look like in 2024?
Either way, I can help. As a software sales recruiter with nearly four decades of experience, I have an extensive network of pre-vetted talent and opportunities. Contact me to share your thoughts about 2024. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s connect.