All over the UK ghost hunts, concerts, shows, race meetings, bars, restaurants and house parties will be showing their scary sides, and those taking part will be in the mood for some spine-tingling tipples to go with them.
“The Halloween market has grown significantly over the past five years, taking an estimated £240 million last year, and has cemented itself as the third largest retailing event of the year after Christmas and Easter,” says Carl Middleton, head of off-trade at Marston’s, which is releasing specially designed packs of Hobgoblin 6x50cl bottles and 5-litre mini-kegs for the event.
“The potential during this time is huge, so retailers should join in the fun and use the excuse to capitalise on this time of year. Hobgoblin sales increase between two- and four-fold over Halloween, so ensure that your key brands are well stocked and have secondary events space that highlights brands specific to Halloween.”
Andrew King, managing director of Funkin Cocktails, says: “Halloween has become a popular calendar occasion in the UK in recent years and we know that more and more consumers are celebrating this fun holiday.
“Cocktails are a large piece of the big night in occasion, and with simple mixers like Funkin consumers can make a wide range of fun and spooky cocktails to wow their guests.
“Retailers should offer premium spirits with cocktail mixers and party snacks to make the shopping experience that much easier for the young adult consumer who is pressed for time.”
Spirits in supermarkets see a 54% volume uplift at Halloween compared with the average week, according to Nielsen figures from Jägermeister — but the impulse sector is missing out on the opportunity, with just a 7% uplift.
The herbal liqueur is running a PR, advertising, social media and on-trade campaign called Zombie Outbreak to boost sales this spooky season, and will also be working with retailers and putting coupons for £2 off a 70cl bottle in a consumer magazine to celebrate the occasion.
Marketing director Nicole Goodwin says: “Halloween is the perfect opportunity for retailers to cross-merchandise Halloween products with spirits to grab the attention of those looking to purchase for parties and nights out. Use a Halloween display to attract consumers to specific products and help increase sales of key lines.
“With Halloween falling on a weekend, many consumers will take the opportunity to host their own parties. Retailers should pre-empt this with cross-category displays and dual-sighting of products, allowing shoppers to get everything they need from the start of October.”
The Co-operative got in ahead of the game this year, with the launch of its new Truly Irresistible Greco in June.
Playing on the grape’s other name, Grecula, the retailer brought the wine to life with a comic- art label featuring the prince of darkness himself — think Max Schreck not Christopher Lee — and a screaming woman. It is made in partnership with winemaker and oenologist Riccardo Cotarella and is priced at £6.99.
The 2014 vintage wine is made in the southern Italian province of Benevento, where grapes are grown on volcanic soils and develop aromas of spring meadows and acacia honey, according to the Co-op, and which is so famous for witchcraft and magic that it was once known as “the city of witches”.
Wine buyer Ben Cahill says: “We really wanted to play with the synonym of Greco, Grecula, to bring to life the history of Benevento, as well as give it further stand-out on shelf.”
He adds: “Halloween parties offer a big opportunity for retailers, especially in the beer, wine and spirits category, and as it lands on the weekend this year along with the Rugby World Cup Final, we will be looking to maximise sales through keen price points and some themed promotional offers throughout the range.
“We offer a wide range of pre-chilled beers, wines and fizz across our stores, which is ideal for shoppers looking for something quick and convenient before they head to their Halloween parties or tune into the Rugby World Cup Final.
“Highlighting wine and food matches is another great way at Halloween — spooky recipes and wines that will enhance them.”
Independent retailer Amathus Drinks in Soho often finds that big brands want to sponsor its window displays for Halloween, which will tie in with a cocktail tasting. “We will dress up the store, but we don’t usually have special offers,” says manager Nick Bell.
Meanwhile, Sussex-based South Downs Cellars steers clear of Halloween, which manager James Halliday says is “great for kids, but not a wine shop”. But the shop always makes a special autumn window display — which “might have the odd pumpkin in it” — and which this year will be themed around its first Oktoberfest promotion.