Marketing Research Paper on Consumer Behavior towards Halloween

Consumer Behavior towards Halloween

1. Introduction

Research on consumer behavior has taken a different approach in the last few years. Most researchers have focused on the topic of consumer behavior and according to Kotler and Keller (79), the reason why learning the consumer behavior is significant is because it has a direct impact on how a business performs. Marketers are able to understand the thoughts of customers, how they feel and what they prefer. There are several factors that can influence a consumer’s behavior including social, cultural, psychological and personal factors. According to a research carried out by Wright (58), consumers go through a five stage process during their decision making process. The factors that affect consumer behavior are way beyond a marketer’s power but knowing the factors will help a marketer understand how to handle the consumer and control their decision making.

In considering consumer behavior, it is necessary to appreciate the definition of consumer behavior. Evans et al. (15) defines consumer behavior as a process through which an individual decides and takes action on what product or service they want to buy, use and dispose to their satisfaction. In this research paper, the focus will be on a popular event called Halloween. Halloween is not a normal festive holiday, since it does not have the characteristics of many festive holidays that involve structured meals. However, at the same time Halloween has its own unique characteristics, which are followed all over the world. A part of this research will focus on how Halloween began. The methodology used will be ethnographic technique where the observation and interviewing of Halloween participant will be recorded. Ethnographic technique is most appropriate in this research since it allows the reader of the research to understand Halloween from different angles including activities that go on during Halloween and processes that are followed.

This research paper will have three different segments; the first segment will focus on Halloween began. The methodology to be used in understanding the consumer behavior and consumption will be in the second segment. It is also in the second segment that interpretation of the findings will be analyzed and discussed. The third segment will look at process of Halloween including stores, visits during Halloween and the themes during the event of Halloween.

2. History of Halloween

According to Morton (34), Halloween derived its popularity from a popular church event celebrated by Anglicans, Catholics, and Lutherans. Halloween comes on the eve of the popular All Hallows Eve. There is a contrast in terms of celebration approach and purpose of Halloween between most parts of Europe and America. While in Europe, many people take Halloween as a time to visit the graves of the lost ones and pray for their souls, in America it is the total opposite. In America, Halloween is a time to have fun, make pranks on each other, play scary games and cast false spells on one another.

As far as the second century, the Celts strongly believed that on 31 October the dead spirits would come back to live and visit their loved ones who are still alive. In order to calm the dead spirits down, their relatives would go ahead and give them nice things. When Pope Gregory recognized Halloween and placed it on the calendar in memory of martyrs, the doors were opened for the recognition of Halloween. The believe that Halloween was a time for spirits made people believe that witches existed, and they also flew with magic brooms, black cats had powers and the witches practiced unholy rites.

The belief grew through the American colonial period and it was so strong that there was a campaign against witches with the most popular one in 1962 in Salem Massachusetts. It must be noted however that embracing Halloween in the United States was not as fast. Most of the people that settled in the United States were Protestants who unlike the Roman Catholics and Anglicans did not observe Halloween (Gillis 17). One of the reasons that led to the quick spread of the Halloween tradition in America was the great Irish immigration, which took place in the 1840’s. The Irish were keen observers of Halloween in terms of religion and the practices, which included the troubling practices during the Halloween holiday.

Due to the Irish influence, Halloween was being observed nationally in America. At that time, Halloween involved, wearing of costumes, children visiting doors for trick-or-treat, playing games and having parties. As time went by most Americans were against the prank part of Halloween. The reason for the low tolerance of pranks was due to the fact that many young men over indulged in the prank acts and it became more of wreckage and ruining of people properties. The belief in witches on flying brooms and black cats were surpassed by modernization and technology. However many people most who are children still move from door to door seeking for trick-or-treat. Halloween’s popularity has spread all over the world with distant countries like Kazakhstan also observing and celebrating Halloween.

One of the most notable and influence aspect of Halloween in these modern times is the use of costumes. Many people prepare many days before the holiday and spend a lot of time and money in finding the most appropriate and interesting costumes. Understanding the time and money used in buying the costumes is significant to this research because it involved consumption of a product. The costume in this context is important because it is used as a tool of transformation and sending a message about the owner. As much as not all buyers of the costumes are the ones wearing them, the costume serves a purpose of separating the wearer from the rest of the people during Halloween. The alteration and uniqueness is what gives the purchaser the approval.

3. Methodology

In this research as seen earlier ethnographic approach was used. The research involved two researchers who were delegated to different responsibilities including observing and questioning random Halloween enthusiasts. The two researchers took different estates to observe how the residents of these estates carry themselves out during Halloween. They also visited different stores that sell Halloween costumes and products related to Halloween.

As far as the sample is concerned, the research included random by passers who the two researchers introduced themselves to before asking questions and enlightened them on the purpose of the research. The research used two different approaches. The first approach was the observation of activities in the streets and estates and also in the stores. The other approach was random face to face interviews with the customers in the store and participants in the streets and estates. The first step was to visit the stores that dealt with Halloween products. The visitations started three weeks before Halloween, which is feted on 31 October.

The two researchers posed as customers in the two stores, switching the visits between the three observation periods. Two stores were visited, in the first week; the activities in both stores were slow and less. As the Halloween date drew closer, the stores became busier with many customers coming in the second week. In the third week, however, the Halloween week the stores had overwhelming number of customers. The observation was followed by an interview conducted in both stores where the storeowners gave their opinion on the change in activity levels. Both stores had a wide variety of costumes to choose from and other Halloween products like pumpkins and so on. The environment in the stores gave a feeling of creepiness with stickers and different lighting methods. The face to face interviews also involved customers who visited the stores who gave their opinions based on the answers we asked.

Next observation spot was the estate, with two estates on focus one suburb and another estate that had middle class occupants. The researchers walked through the estates throughout the night observing the movements and activities of the dwellers. The observation brought out a difference in enthusiasm during the Halloween period. More Halloween activities were recorded in the suburb estate compared to the middle class estate. Children in the suburb estate were out in the early hours of the night in large numbers, carrying baskets as they knocked door to door shouting ‘trick or treat’. They had different costumes and some were guided by their parents. On the contrary, the middle class estate had fewer numbers of people out in costumes, however, there was a notable partying environment in several houses but may not be attributed to the Halloween festival.

4. Findings and Discussion

The observation of the Halloween stores and different estates during the three observation periods clearly brought out a difference in customer behavior. In the same way, the interviews carried out also showed that customers are motivated to participate in an event or to purchase a product. Customers did not seek to purchase Halloween costumes and products in the early days of October but seek to buy the costumes as the Halloween date drew closer. Situations can force consumers to behave in a certain way that will lead to the purchase of a service or product. In this case, the motivation for the purchase of Halloween costumes is the Halloween event coming up. In observing the different estates with resident from upper class and middle class, the observation was that there was little activity related to Halloween compared to the upper class estate. Personal factors include economic elements such as the career of a consumer. The upper class residents are considered to have a higher spending ability compared to the middle class residents. Therefore, the priorities of the set of populations are different. While the upper class can afford extra money to use in buying costumes and getting time to enjoy the Halloween festival, the middle class have to set their spending priorities right while spending and  as much time as possible working to sustain their lives.


In conclusion, several issues sway customer behavior. These factors stimulate a shopper to buying a service or products. Factors such as cultural factors, social factors, psychological factors and personal reasons play a significant part in a consumer decision making process to purchase. Businesses that understand consumer behavior can flourish in the business environment. As seen in this research, consumers can decide to purchase a product due to the condition, which in this instance is the Halloween celebration. Most stores after the Halloween holiday switch into dealing in other products as they wait on the next Halloween since it will be a waste of money paying rent and not selling as much for the rest of the year.

Works Cited

Evans, Martin, Ahmad Jamal, and G R. Foxall. Consumer Behaviour. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2006. Print.

Gillis, Jennifer B. Halloween. Chicago: Heinemann Library, 2008. Print.

Kotler, Philip, and Kevin L. Keller. Marketing Management. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall, 2012. Print.

Morton, Lisa. Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween. London: Reaktion Books, 2012. Print.

Wright, Ray. Consumer Behaviour. Australia: Thomson Learning, 2006. Print.