What Halloween Costumes Say About Consumer Personas

Marketers study consumer personas in order to understand how to market other products and services to them. That’s evident in emails like the one I got from Pollfish about what types of consumers wear particular costumes. However, there’s another wrinkle in the costume to consider — what if you can’t find the outfit you want?

No. 1 Halloween pet costume per NRF
“Orange,” Creative Commons license. | Credit: Flickr by Eric.Ray

Marketers study consumer personas in order to understand how to market other products and services to them. That’s evident in emails like the one I got from Pollfish about what types of consumers wear particular costumes. However, there’s another wrinkle in the costume to consider — what if you can’t find the outfit you want?

Fortunately for Wonder Woman fans, the costume that was the top seller in 2015 is readily available and freshly popular due to the formidable film performance of Gal Gadot. This superhero was the top costume search as of Oct. 25, Hitwise told Target Marketing — up 70 percent in this, the year “Wonder Woman” flew high in theaters.

Her genre yields the simplest persona to discern, finds Pollfish in research it announced on Oct. 25, as well: “53 percent of respondents planning to dress as a superhero are the ‘musicfan’ persona type (i.e., they listen to music and follow music news). ‘Gamers’ (19 percent) are least likely to dress as a superhero.”

Wonder Woman chart from Hitwise
Wonder Woman chart from Hitwise | Credit: HItwise by Hitwise

For this and other reasons, this isn’t a holiday to ignore. The National Retail Federation says:

This year, consumers are expected to spend $9.1 billion, up from $8.4 billion in 2016.

It appears as though this superhero costume buyer persona will be easier for marketers to identify than, perhaps, mine will be. I’ll detail below the other four personas Pollfish found among consumers who easily found their costume choices.

But first, I’ll explain a market segment that may not be so readily classified: The niche costume buyer. I failed on Saturday, searching for an “Offred” outfit that resembled the protagonist in “The Handmaid’s Tale” (a book upon which a recent Hulu series is named).

Hulu email
“The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu

In the costume shop I visited that day, the proprietor told me that he hadn’t secured the license for the costume. He suggested I be a nun, as my friend unsuccessfully hunted for the “Predator” gun he wanted. Both of us ended up cobbling together outfits from clothing we already had — as had many of our friends. (They were characters from “Rick and Morty,” etc.)

Granted, previous Blue Fountain Media research shows that waiting until the last minute isn’t a good idea — only about 2 percent of Halloween shoppers do that. And I definitely could’ve gotten my costume from Etsy if I’d shopped earlier. Or maybe I could’ve been a bonnet-wearing, frumpish-cloaked Red Riding Hood — instead of one of the more scantily clad ones.

But this situation does mean marketers are missing out on a chance to profile that consumer base. (Although maybe brands already know the deal about Offred and Margaret Atwood fans. A May article in Mashable titled “Why ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Costumes Are the Most Powerful Meme of the Resistance Yet” doesn’t have me pegged, though. I’m a stubbornly objective journalist whose code of ethics prevents me from signing petitions, much less joining political movements.)

Ellie Fletcher
Ellie will probably enjoy wearing her Eagles jersey far more than she’s enjoyed other things she’s worn. | Credit: Heaather Fletcher

Still, in what seems counterintuitive, it was easy to find a costume for my puppy. We sifted through options at a pet store. Maybe these options are available because the NRF says consumers love dressing their pets — with 10 percent of clad pets wearing pumpkin outfits, the No. 1 choice.

My adopted shelter mutt Ellie will be an Eagles player.

Pollfish’s four other personas, as detailed in “Can the Apps on Your Phone Predict What Your Halloween Costume Says About You?” are:

Pop Culture-Related

This is the second-most-distinctive persona, according to Pollfish, because “45 percent of people whose Halloween costumes are inspired by pop culture are the ‘value shopper’ persona type (i.e., like to organize shopping lists and search for discounts). ‘Entertainment enthusiasts’ (43 percent) are also likely to dress as pop culture icons.” [Author’s note: Hmmm. OK. So my friends and I may be cheap.]

Politician

This isn’t “political,” Offred fans. Pollfish says:

There’s a 43 percent chance people who don this costume are the ‘sportsfan.’ The ‘traveler’ persona (39 percent) is also likely to dress as a politician.

Animal

So, not all consumers dress their pets. Some dress as pets. Pollfish reports: “38 percent of people dressing as an animal for Halloween are ‘socialites.’ ‘Sportsfans’ (15 percent) are least likely to dress as an animal.”

Historical Figure

Interestingly, Pollfish separates the “Historical Figure” persona from the “Politician” persona. And the “Historical Figure” persona looks a little like the “Superhero” persona. Here’s what Pollfish finds among “Historical Figure” aficionados:

Survey says: 51 percent of Americans dressing as a historical figure are ‘musicfans.’ ‘Productivity boosters’ (41 percent) are also likely to dress as a historical figure.

What do you think, marketers?

Please respond in the comments section below.

Author: Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

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