Halloween may just be the perfect youth holiday…Halloween gets it right in so many ways with kids, tweens and even teens (not to mention their parents). The most kid-centric of celebrations, this holiday could only be made more perfect if it came with a day off from school (maybe – see below). And while parents might suspect that other holidays have become too commercial, or require more planning and prep than play, most have no problem getting into the spooky spirit. To get all you guys and ghouls in the mood (sorry, we couldn’t resist!), see our 10 reasons why Halloween gets the under 18 set howling:
- The power of fantasy. Whether you’re a kid, tween or teen, every youth wishes to be someone else, at least some of the time. For kids, Halloween is a chance to be big. Whether it’s dressing up like a superhero, a princess or a ferocious animal, Halloween gives kids a chance to turn the tables. For once, they can feel what it would be like to be in charge and on top.
- The opportunity to express one’s self. For tweens, Halloween transformations are more subtle, and often, involve trying on the look of one’s aspirational self. The up-and-coming athlete asserts his or her identity by being, well, a soccer player. The tween girl dresses up as the super fan of their favorite band. And the teen who might not stand-out on the traditional measures has a chance to get kudos for their cleverness with a witty costume. Tweens and teens are in the midst of the important process of figuring out who they are and how they want to be seen, and on this day, they have more tangible tools to help them do it.
- Permission to break the rules. Maybe today’s kids don’t really wander the streets in the evening (with trick or treating officially ending at dusk in most places)…But on Halloween, you get to knock on your neighbors’ doors and beg for candy, and then actually get to eat it. In many schools, the dress-code gets ditched. And – under the protection of being “in character” – you might get to be a bit rebellious. After all, no one expects a Pirate or a Vampire to use their inside voice.
- Connection to community. In a “Bowling Alone” culture, where friendships play out online, with little face-to-face interaction, connection matters more than ever. Concerns about “stranger danger” sometimes isolate our kids from people who live very close to us. But on Halloween, barriers are broken down as costumes serve as conversation starters. Halloween parades give youth a chance to show off (and compete for prizes) but also give them a chance to participate in community.
- The chance to be scared. Being frightened might seem like something to be avoided, but it’s actually as much a need as a truth. For the little kid who worries about ghosts in the night, Halloween is a chance to confront your fears (and laugh them off). (Toys that tap into this need, like dolls from brand “Monster High,” tend to meet with unexpected success.) For older youth, Halloween gives them a delicious taste of the uncanny – the sense that something is familiar and not quite right at the same time. Some of our most loved literary ventures tap into this Freudian theme, and it makes for a chance to explore the dark side in a safe space.
- An excuse for family fun. For many parents, Halloween comes with a certain amount of anxiety. Most parents don’t make their kids’ costumes, but even trying to find the perfect costume at the right price, in the right size, can be stressful. (Not to mention the parents of teens who are monitoring their children’s choices for public appropriateness!) But Halloween gives mom and dad a chance to join in the fun, and gives kids, tweens and teens some time to bond with parents.
Halloween might be a tough act to follow for organizations and brands who want to tap into some of its magic. But this day might provide some inspiration, along with ideas, for smart marketers to consider.