The Data behind Halloween

Oct 30, 2017
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Candy is good for you

Data analytics is playing an increasingly important role in the day-to-day functions of our most critical industries: healthcare, finance, retail, and other consumer-driven markets. Everything from logistics to minuscule pieces of ROI data to user habits is collected and analyzed every minute of every day. With the holiday season right around the corner and with data sure to play a role in the way we shop and are advertised to, we wanted to take a deeper dive into a very important holiday to kick things off: Halloween (October 31st).

There are several aspects of Halloween that we hold dear—candy, costumes, and mild terror chief among them. Everyone already knows that the data says the best time to buy candy is the day after Halloween (stores need to make room for the paper turkeys and Thanksgiving wares), but what about before Halloween, when you actually need it?

The Candy

Fortunately, Ibotta, the “largest consumer technology company,” has us covered. According to a study they released earlier in October, the data says the best time to buy Halloween candy is four days before the Hallow’ed Eve. Ibotta “found that consumers got the best deals on candy four days before Halloween, when the average price was $1.94 per unit. That was in stark contrast to Oct. 30, when the median cost rose to $2.75, making the day before Halloween the worst day to save money on candy.”

There is probably some basic supply/demand reasoning with which we could have arrived at the conclusion, but it’s good to know that someone really dug in and did the dirty work for us.

The Costumes

The second most important thing about Halloween is the costumes. Because most people are very busy, lacking the time for ensemble inspiration, Google has created its own analytics engine based on search data to help people find the most popular costumes for 2017. Google’s website for this engine, Frightgeist, lists “Wonder Woman”, “Harley Quinn”, and “clown” as the top three trending costume searches this year, with “unicorn” and “rabbit” rounding out the top five. It also shows a state-by-state breakdown of the most-searched costumes in each. In Colorado, where we have our innovation hub, the top three searches are “mermaid”, “Little Red Riding Hood”, and “Wonder Woman”. To the north of Colorado, in Wyoming they prefer “horse” and “elephant”.

Even though candy is clearly the most important part of Halloween, Fortune reports that, for almost half of the festivity participants, the average costume expenditure adds up to slightly more than $70. Slightly more disheartening is the publication’s conclusion: “… if you were to boycott All Hallows’ Eve throughout your life, you could save nearly $12,000 by the time you turned 65.” But, we thought that was what retirement plans were for.

The Thrill

For some folks, Halloween is more about the trick than the treat. The thrill of the scare is tantalizing, and what better time to indulge than on the day we have literally set aside for such things? The tough part is deciding which scary movie to watch. The horror genre is now filled with subgenres, and it can be difficult to sift through the jumble of options. We need data to solve that problem, and Rotten Tomatoes, with its proprietary Tomatometer and audience review data aggregation, is just the solution. The Tomatometer is “…based on the published opinions of hundreds of film and television critics – is a trusted measurement of movie and TV programming quality for millions of moviegoers.” So, there you have it. Qualitative movie reviews turned into quantitative measurements to effectively direct viewers to the best horror movies of all time.

And the winners are… According to the Tomatometer, the top five horror movies are Get Out (2017), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Psycho (1960), Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror (1922), and King Kong (1933). If none of those fit your preferred flavor of horror, fear not – the data aggregation of the Tomatometer has 95 more for you to choose from to round out the top 100 horror films of all time.

The Conclusion

Although many might mistake Halloween as just another commercially driven occasion, there is real data to back up its importance to our culture. The tons (literally) of candy, weirdly expensive costumes, and exhaustive movie aggregators makes the conclusion from the data clear: it’s the most important night in October.