Candy is king at Halloween

Jake GammonHead of Omnibus, US
October 29, 2015, 5:14 PM GMT+0

With Halloween just around the corner, YouGov Omnibus polled over 1,100 American adults to find out how they planned to celebrate the holiday.

Two responses were head and shoulders above everything else: almost one-third (31%) said they are “not doing anything,” while a similar proportion planned to “give out candy or other treats” (32%).

While it may be true that every kid loves a treat, women and seniors are more likely to give out treats than others: 38% of women plan to give out treats, compared to just 27% of men, while 42% of those 55+ plan on giving out treats, substantially higher than those age 35 to 54 (32%), and even more so than young adults 18 - 34 (21%).

After giving out candy, the next most common activities included “watch a scary movie” (16%), “dressing up in a costume,” chosen by 13% of adults, and going trick or treating. Though just 12% of all adults planned to make the rounds of their neighborhoods, this behavior is heavily influenced by the presence of children in the household: adults with children under 18 were eight times more likely to go trick or treating (34%) than those without children (4%).

Among those who plan on giving out treats, there is a clear consensus on what makes a good Halloween treat: candy or chocolate. In fact, over 90% of this group is planning to give out both candy and chocolate. Gum and other treats are also-rans, mentioned by only one-fourth each.

Within the two leading categories – candy and chocolate – respondents plan to offer products that are overwhelmingly produced by national or international brands. Among candies, candy corn is the only ‘generic’ to crack the top 10 (gummy worms/bears, distributed by 11% of treat-givers are in 11th place; other generic candies include jelly beans at 7% and jaw breakers at 3%).

Despite the dominance of well-known brands as the preferred choice among treat-givers, the non-chocolate candy manufacturer landscape is fairly diverse, as the 24 candies on the list represent 12 different companies. Heavyweights Tootsie, Hershey, Nestle, and Wrigley/Mars claim three products each, Mondelez has two (Sour Patch Kids, chosen by 10% of respondents, and Swedish Fish at 2%), as does the Ferrara Candy Company (Now & Laters and Lemon Heads at 7% and 6% respectively), while the six remaining companies have one product apiece. These include Smarties Candy Co. (Smarties), Spangler Candy Co. (Dum Dums), Just Born (Mike & Ike), Perfetti Van Melle (Airheads), Topps (Ring Pops), and Pop Rocks Inc. (Pop Rocks).

In sharp contrast to the candy market, the most popular chocolates are highly concentrated within a small group of large companies. In fact, when respondents are asked what chocolates they expect to hand out, no generic treat makes the list at all -- it is dominated by the same companies that sell the majority of chocolate in the US throughout the year: Mars, Hershey, and Nestle. Tootsie Roll Industries claims the 10th spot, but after that, the only other company to make a showing is Mondelez, with Milka, Cadbury Milk Chocolate Bars, and Toblerone -- all three of those chocolates are named by 2% of participants as the chocolate they will give out on Halloween.

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