Brands and retailers should be making greater use of insights into shopper attitudes towards special occasions in order to be better prepared for a Halloween that is expected to top even last year’s record-breaking event.

That, says Bridgethorne, the category and customer management and shopper marketing specialist, is despite Halloween 2012 being confirmed as the UK’s third most lucrative festival after Christmas and Easter and ahead of Valentine’s Day, with more than £300m being spent by UK shoppers.

Bridgethorne says that whilst seasonal events like Halloween represent a major opportunity for brands and retailers to enjoy an economic boost, work needs to be done in advance to ensure that the right insights are used to inform marketing and promotional activity, whether in-store or online.

“Halloween has really come of age,” explains Bridgethorne director John Nevens.  “Spending on Halloween in the UK has risen from around £12 million to more than £300 million in only ten years and has become more of a family event than purely something for the kids. Importantly, it also crosses multiple ranges from confectionery to cakes, from yoghurts to partyware but there is more that brands can do to understand the shopper’s motivation when it comes to Halloween.”

Waitrose was just one of the retailers which reported a successful Halloween in 2012, with sales of spider cupcakes and chocolate brownies up 19 per cent year on year and shoppers taking home 65 per cent more pre-packed Halloween cakes than in 2011. Sales of chocolate treat packs also rose by 86 per cent.

Nevens believes, though, that brands don’t necessarily fully understand the motivations around Halloween shopping.

“There is a great deal of opportunism about Halloween shopping; adding themed products to your basket at the last minute for your own celebrations or for trick or treaters. If brands understood the shopper’s thought process more clearly and the influence placed on them by others in their households, they could more effectively structure their activity to align with it. This doesn’t necessarily mean spending more, but spending in a more informed manner.”

Nevens says by using insights on real shopper behaviour to inform a supplier’s shopper marketing strategy both online and in-store, they can identify the right mechanics that are going to resonate with those shoppers as part of any activation plan.

Understanding the point of purchase interface is critical to success. Bridgethorne helps suppliers understand both the product’s & the shopper’s journey to the point of purchase. In so doing Bridgethorne adds value to both the supplier and the retailer by helping clients achieve a more informed and constructive working relationship with the retailer.