Spooky Season is upon us and that means it’s time to enjoy all things pumpkin spice, fall coziness, and that which we all scream for…
Ice cream? Not quite, but close.
For some, Halloween season is but a once-a-year passing indulgence, the only time we permit ourselves to curl up with our favorite horror movies, buy fake skeletons, bats, and cobwebs (oh my!) as home decor, and dare to tread along the edge of the darker side of life. For many others, however, Halloween is no mere precursor to the holiday season, but rather an all-day, everyday way of life.
Take from this Community Manager (and Eldergoth) what you will, but if multiple post comments and DMs in Brooks’ inbox from customers pleading for a Halloween shoe design are any indication, the market is there and consumers want their shrieks, screams, and genuine feedback to be heard. Looking at the current cultural landscape, it’s plain as anyone can see that the weirdos are finally having their moment. Major retailers have begun stepping up their efforts to create products and content that speak to a previously untapped and oft-disregarded market: subcultural consumers.
Yesterday’s goths, nerds, and beyond are all grown up with grown-up dollars to spend. Now bearing the responsibilities of career, family, home, and the like, it’s even more imperative to continue celebrating and nurturing the childlike sense of wonder and weirdness that is still very much alive within these grown-ups. Success stories from numerous major brands and veritable tastemakers prove that (to quote The Mandalorian) “this is the way.”
Take, for example, Critical Role, a show featuring a beloved cast of voice actors gathering to play Dungeons and Dragons, which has seen an exponential amount of success since its inception. In fact, its spin-off animated series, The Legend of Vox Machina, raised an impressive $11 million US during its Kickstarter campaign, expanding the single pilot episode into a 12-episode season which got picked up by Amazon. (Source: ‘The rise of Critical Role: How a crew of 'nerdy-ass voice actors' became Dungeons & Dragons rock stars’). On the Halloween end of the spectrum, many retailers have begun leaning further into expanding their seasonal product offerings, which serve as a traffic driver during an otherwise slower season before retail’s all-important holiday quarter. (Source: Retail Dive ‘How Halloween became a $10B business for retailers’ October 23, 2022). Further, comic conventions around the world continue to boast record numbers for rate of attendance. In 2019, San Diego Comic-Con recorded an estimated 167,000 attendees, while New York Comic-Con reported 250,000 fans, and Emerald City Comic-Con in Seattle had around 98,000 attendees (Source: ‘The Most Surprising Comic-Con Attendance Statistics And Trends in 2023’).
One hallmark of many subcultures is the shared understanding of feeling like an outcast for having aesthetic tastes that go against what’s considered to be “mainstream”. Thanks to shows like Stranger Things popularizing that which was once considered “uncool”, these subcultures within the pop culture sphere are quickly becoming not only socially acceptable but widely celebrated. Maintaining a sense of pop culture literacy is a powerful tool to speak to your demographics by meeting them at their level. The nerds of the past have evolved into the proverbial homecoming royalty of the present and it’s time we give them their due.
So, what steps can be taken to authentically and thoughtfully market to subcultural demographics?
- Do your research. Get an understanding of what truly resonates with these demographics be it musically, socially, culturally, aesthetically, and beyond.
- Create products and content targeted to these demographics, keeping accessibility, diversity, and inclusion at the forefront.
- Have fun! Think of all your favorite things about the Halloween season and beyond. Think of everything about you that makes you weird. And play to that.