Windsor

Kids, candy and the annual fight by marketers to bring them together at Halloween

Halloween trends may change in any given year, but at its core is the enduring relationship between kids and candy.

Dentists and the dental industry waging campaigns of their own these days, too

There are always new trends in a given Halloween year, like these Nestle products that have been rebranded with spooky names. But at the core, Halloween is about a relationship involving kids and candy. (Geoff Nixon/CBC)

Halloween trends may change in any given year, but at its core is the enduring relationship between kids and candy.

Statistics Canada says that large retailers saw $305.3 million in average monthly sales of candy, confectionery and snack goods last year.

But during the month of October, they racked up $397.7 million worth of sales in these same categories.

That $92-million bump is presumably due to the candy being purchased for Oct. 31.

The holiday, if it can be called that, is clearly a candy bonanza.

For candy marketers, there are at least two clear plays to make at Halloween, according to Vincent Georgie, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Windsor.

There's the short-term money to be made from selling treats and there's long-term money to be made in future, from building an association with buyers.

"There is a long-time brand attachment and the nostalgia factor, that is part of it," Georgie said in a recent telephone interview.

"But the immediate piece without question is really getting people to part with their disposable income."

Dentists making their pitch, too

It's not just the candy-makers and marketers, however, who are vying for the attention of the people buying their mini-chocolate bars, candy rockets and individual caramels.

Dentists, it seems, have learned that it can be worth their while to get their own message out during the annual candy crush that is Halloween.

Bruce Chambers, who is well-known to many as CBC Radio's Ad Guy, said some savvy dentists have been making candy buyback offers, in a bid to lessen overall consumption by children.

In Windsor, Ont., a local dentist has made one of these offers this year, pledging to pay $2 for each kilogram of candy handed in and "sold" by his younger patients.

But Chambers said the dental industry has also seized upon the marketing opportunities presented at Halloween, crafting commercials that play up the inherent bond between kids and candy and the accompanying need for them to take care of their teeth.

"Dental marketers are transforming Halloween into an opportunity to build allegiance with kids and parents," he recently told CBC Radio.

"Instead of just saying no and causing everyone to simply tune them out, marketers are learning it's much more constructive to demonstrate ways they can help kids enjoy Halloween candy without suffering the consequences."

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