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Monday, October 12, 2009

The Year Round Halloween Economy

        Halloween is a current focus of many retailers, and indeed the prime focus of those in the business of Halloween. As I discussed in an earlier post Halloween doesn't just suddenly pop up as we get close to October 31.  There are many behind the scenes preparations that are occurring leading up to the day while the rest of us are focusing our attentions on other things in our daily lives.  As with any promotion there is a great deal of research and planning involved to make the sales event successful.  The companies supplying the retailers with the merchandise are working year round to get product to stores and the buyers at those stores must often do their product purchasing months in advance of Halloween.  So who else benefits from the massive preparations that lead up to that one silly day called Halloween?
         Some of the preparations for one year's Halloween are underway even before an upcoming Halloween has arrived.  Designers and developers are frequently not focused on what is happening this year, but next year or beyond.  Future products need to be pretested in market studies, decisions have to be made on how and where they will be manufactured, the prototypes need to be made for presentational purposes -- a bad production plan can lead to an inventory of unwanted product which is lost profit.  While it is important to jump on what is current and trendy, it is equally important to carefully come up with products consumers will want and to cultivate  a market for these products. Producers must make every effort to shape the market and provide convincing arguments for consumers to desire what the companies have to offer.
         As in the retail end of the business, marketing is what the wholesale distributers must use in order to let the store buyers know what is out there.  The product doesn't just appear on the shelves at Halloween.  The buyers need to be made aware of what is going to be available and decide what products their customers would like to buy. These buyers must examine and compare product and prices from numerous catalogs of merchandise for the upcoming season.  Who has best pricing? Quality? Appearance? Packaging? Who's going to be able to deliver the merchandise?  Buyers usually make decisions based on their past experience with a company or the reputation of a company. However the catalogs serve as essential references for the purchasing agents.
          This brings us to the next major economic aspect of the Halloween industry -- these catalogs and advertising materials have be produced.  The advertising that companies must have printed may range from simple inexpensive brochures to bulky, slicky-produced, color catalogs on quality stock.The production runs will typically be in the tens to hundreds of thousands, enough for distribution to every store and business that could potentially be interested in purchasing product from a company.  A very large manufacturer like Rubies or Disguise may put out multi-volume catalogs each year, with additional supplement catalogs and promotional literature sent to clients throughout the year.  A large catalog of this nature is a printers dream, but just about any printing company is going to be more than happy to have an account with any business that regularly produces a catalog or brochures. All of this printed material adds millions of dollars yearly to the combined coffers of the U.S. printing industry.  Bear in mind, some of this printing may be outsourced, but nevertheless some of that money still ends up in American pockets.
         Producing a catalog that looks professional and appealing often takes months of preparation.  Photographers, copywriters, lay-out artists, models, and many others form a team of individuals who work full time, parttime, and temporary to become part of the sector of working Americans who contribute back into the economic flow.  Here we can also add those who are involved in catalog resources that include CD, DVD, video, and websites.  Bottom line here is that promotional materials are being produced throughout the year which in turn helps keep thousands working which adds millions of dollars to the U.S. economy. Ask those involved in the production of this advertising:  would they want to see Halloween go away?
          There is another economic side of promoting Halloween that never really occurs to most of us. This is the Halloween trade show and the trade show that may have a section related or devoted to Halloween. There are several of these-- some fairly sizeable.  For over 25 years TransWorld Exhibits out of Chicago has been putting on trade shows for the Halloween industry.  They have two scheduled for 2010, in Chicago and St. Louis, where over 150 exhibitors will be displaying their goods. The gargantuan toy fair held year yearly in New York City has an extensive area devoted to Halloween goods.  There are many other Halloween trades shows not only geared toward the business buyers, but also some are exclusively directed toward the public Halloween aficionados and fans. The shows employ thousands of workers involved in all the many aspects of show set up and production--teamsters, electricians, housekeeping, security, food-service, and many, many others.  Add to this transportation costs to the shows, thousands of hotel rooms and restaurant meals, and all other expenses incurred by show attendees and exhibitors. All of this infuses a vitality to the economic climate that makes the trade show presence highly desired.  The acquisition of a trade show is a boon to a community's economy.
          The trade show promoters also have their employees that organize, publicize, and facilitate the events. These are in most cases full time employees who work to bring many different shows into being and the halloween shows promoted by their organizations are important to companies' economies. Like the companies who exhibit at their shows, these promoters also have a great deal of publicity materials and promotional packages printed for distribution to their clients.  There are also publications focused on the trade show industry, and even more specifically Halloween itself.  The total printing bills related to putting on all of the Halloween related shows is undoubtedly a substantial sum.
            One could go on and on with many examples of the direct effects and some of the other indirect influences in the ways that Halloween alone impacts the printing, publishing, and convention/trade show industries, but I think you get the idea. Halloween integrates just about every aspect of the U.S. economic communtiy.  A U.S. society with no Halloween doesn't just mean that some costume stores might have to close down, but it would have negative effect on many other businesses. The next and final installment of this series about the Halloween economy will deal with the effect on the entertainment industry.  After all, for many people Halloween is fun, ergo entertaining.  If Halloween is synonymous with entertainment, then the Halloween Industry is also a part of the Entertainment Industry.

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