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2020 has been a year of businesses learning to adapt and persevere. COVID-19 has completely changed how we view daily activities. With the holiday season quickly approaching, that perspective will only continue to evolve.

Halloween is known for being the time of year where you send your kids off into the night to knock on every door they can find to scream "Trick or Treat," fully expecting only the "Treat" option to be satisfied. But with mask mandates, social distancing and continued outbreaks around the country, most people do not want hordes of kids showing up at their homes this year.

This has provided a unique problem for parents whose kids want to enjoy the sugar-filled holiday, as well as brands that rely on the revenue that comes from these festivities.

The Hershey Company is one of the businesses that have found themselves in this spot. Halloween accounts for about 10% of their business revenue. They even have employees solely responsible for execution on Halloween specific candy and planning.

Instead of simply following their usual procedures, Hershey's chose to adapt and ensure that this Halloween is as spook-tacular as years past. They did this by starting the Halloween celebration early and producing digital opportunities and advertisements that keep Halloween in consumers' minds this year.

Starting the Celebration Early

Instead of lowering their sales expectations this year, Hershey's rolled out their candy early and still debuted their brand-new specialty chocolates exclusive to Halloween. While they did pull back on some of their seasonal packaging, by getting the candy into the stores and in front of customers early on, they could lengthen the Halloween sales period.

This also gave them more time to promote the exclusive chocolates they created for this Halloween and give customers an excuse to start enjoying the sweets a few weeks earlier than usual. In doing this, they can ensure more sell-through before and after Halloween, when customers are known for scooping up discount holiday sweets.

Providing Digital Opportunities

Embracing the digital nature of 2020 looks different for every business, but for Hershey's, it meant finding a way to keep trick-or-treating around. In the U.S., they helped rolled out a COVID-19 heat map that helps parents find what Halloween activities could be considered safe in their neighborhood this year. They also created a virtual trick-or-treating game in Canada to provide customers with a way to trick or treat at home.

Engaging with customers digitally has provided Hershey’s with a way to stay at the forefront of customers minds, even with so many other brands engaging in this way. They are providing their customers with more than just a sugar rush this year but also with solutions to their Halloween troubles. For many parents these are invaluable options as their kids will not be able to leave the house to celebrate.

Tailoring Creative Alternatives

Halloween commercials have become a staple for candy companies, and many have referred to Halloween as their version of the Super Bowl. But for many such brands, showing depictions of trick-or-treating or other spooktacular festivities would be off base for the 2020 Halloween season. Hershey's instead chose to tailor its commercials based on the location and safety measures in place for their customers.

Customers who are currently living in places where trick-or-treating may be safe will see commercials and ads about enjoying this festive freedom because of their location. But for many others, Hershey's has strategically adjusted their advertisements to promote at home haunted houses and candy scavenger hunts. They are giving options to parents who aren’t sure how to help their children enjoy the holiday this year, especially since it falls on a weekend.

The Result? Sales are up!

While many companies are struggling to adapt during this pandemic, Hershey's is not one of them, and the numbers show it. While things are constantly changing, the company has seen over a 10% increase in their sales numbers so far this holiday season.

The Halloween category has managed to sustain its growth and numbers, but companies must continue to adapt as daily changes occur. Hershey’s has diversified their Halloween portfolio this year by ensuring that trick-or-treating and Elementary school Halloween parties aren’t the only reason to buy candy.

Avtex: "Give 'em pumpkin to talk about."

At Avtex, we know that customer needs are different this year, and that is directly affecting their purchasing decisions. Hershey’s ability to recognize the enormous impact this could have on their Halloween sales and pivoting their strategy to better suit customer needs has a powerful influence on their brand perception to a customer.

Customers can recognize Hershey's attempts to continue to serve them during this pandemic while also giving them other options for celebrating the holiday. The experience this provides customers reflects the current climate and shows customers that they understand that things are different, and they are still there for them. Ultimately this gives customers a reason to not only purchase Hershey’s products but to share these resources with their communities.

If your brand is looking for ways to adapt your business to better suit your customers' evolving needs, Avtex can help. Reach out and let's have a conversation about the strategies you can employ to meet your customers’ needs and expectations in these troubling times.

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