Nestle believes in-store still has a role for Halloween

The confectionery company is betting on real-life pivots resonating more with its core than digital ones.

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Nestlé Canada is launching a Halloween initiative that combines online and in-store elements to help kids and their families feel safe while keeping up their holiday rituals – including stocking up on chocolate.

Informed by Abacus Data research that showed eight in ten Canadian parents plan to celebrate Halloween this season with their family in some way, the Red Pumpkin Project is an online platform featuring guidelines and recommendations to help families celebrate safely, suggesting family activities and DIY projects.

Nestlé is also inviting families to create and display a red pumpkin at their homes, which the company is hoping to turn into a symbol that will encourage neighbours to stay safe on Oct. 31. That can be in the form of celebrating Halloween at home, or by making sure trick-or-treating is done with face coverings and only with people from the same household and handing out treats outside from behind a table. The website also features red pumpkin stencils and decals to encourage visitors to stay six feet apart, similar to one in the check-out aisles at most stores.

Nestle worked with Food Health & Consumer Products, the Retail Council of Canada and Today’s Parent to create the guidelines and recommendations.

Nestle-instoreIn store, there are large, prominent end cap displays aimed at moms, for whom safety is top of mind in what is a unique Halloween season, but one that is still seeing a lot of interest. That’s captured in the “Stay Spooky, Stay Safe” messaging, as well as what the company has seen already at the store level: because of COVID-19, Nestlé is reporting an atypical sales spike well in advance of what it sees around Oct. 31.

Lily Wen, marketing director at Nestlé Canada, tells strategy that point-of-sale is important every season, and even though consumers were limiting shops thanks COVID-19, its research shows they 86% of them still plan to purchase Halloween chocolate primarily in-store this year.

Several confectionery brands have tried to adapt to Halloween in 2020 by providing digital activities, such as scavenger hunts, through websites and social media platforms. But Wen says real life activities like its Pumpkin Patrol Scavenger Hunt and trick-or-treating with safety measures resonate more than gamification, not only because many parents are already concerned kids get too much screen time, but also because some families don’t have access to smart phones with big data plans.

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Nestlé Red Pumpkin Project signage and free stickers are available at Walmart, major grocery and pharmacy retailers and Canadian Tire.

Wen says grocery ecommerce approximately doubled in volume and household penetration during COVID, so consumers will also see Red Pumpkin Project messaging on ecommerce platforms including Amazon, Loblaw and all affiliate banners, and London Drugs. This is informed by insights that 85% of consumers expect to continue buying more groceries online post-COVID than they did pre-COVID.

The company worked with agencies OneMethod and OpenMind on the project.