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Brief Published: 26 Oct 2015

Digital Halloween 2015: VR, Vlogs & Geo-Tech


Geo-locative marketing, the ongoing influence of YouTube-based vlogging and seasonally tailored mobile apps emerge as the leading digital engagement tools of choice for retailers this Halloween.

  • Target's Geo-Locative Social Ecosystem: US mass-market retailer Target has released a free Halloween mobile app called Treatster that connects users to a dedicated (Target-only) social network. The concept directs parents to trick-or-treat hotspots, thanks to votes crowd-sourced from users who can up-vote their best areas by tagging their current locations as a 'treat'. Applicable to cities all over the US, the mobile site integrates with Google Maps' API to ensure unified location references, with favourite places indicated by the size of the pumpkin – larger icons representing more impressive treats and decorations. Notably, users can only select areas, not individual's houses, allaying concerns over safety.

This is not the first seasonal mobile app the brand has created – see Target's Self-Service Scheme for Christmas Shoppers – but consciously hasn't been monetised, rendering more about brand perception than cold, hard sales conversion.

For more on geo-locative brand marketing/sales initiatives, see Location-Based Marketing, Traces: Location Based Messages, Mall Mate: Intu, Deal Based App and Reactive Retailing.

  • Target #2 - Virtual Immersion Via YouTube: Adding a more directly monetised scheme to its Halloween arsenal, Target is also inviting revellers to enter into a 360-degree YouTube-rooted experience for laptops or mobile devices dubbed The House on Hallow Hill. For phone users, who are required to download the YouTube app to join in, angling and tilting the device stimulates movement; for those on laptops navigation comes via browser arrows, allowing them to explore a series of haunted rooms displaying Halloween costumes, party goods and decorations that can be clicked-to-buy direct. All clicks redirect users to the brand's main e-commerce site, automatically arming them with a 10% YouTube viewer promo code.

    Kristi Argyilan, Target's senior vice president of marketing, describes how the digital concept taps into an emerging group of Halloween enthusiasts. "There's a particular group that's just fanatical around Halloween, with a lot of pressure for them to decorate in what we call an epic sort of way. They also are incredibly busy, so their ability to execute Halloween in a way they'd want to is difficult."

For more on directly shoppable virtual experiences, see the Ted Baker case study in Retail Beyond the Algorithm and The Line: Shoppable Virtual Reality.

  • Vlogger Power for Fashion & Beauty: Other shrewd brands are using YouTube's extensive and highly enthusiastic community, particularly retailers with a beauty component. With 123m beauty subscribers globally, it is currently the leading digital platform for beauty engagement. 

    UK high street fashion labels Topshop, New Look and beauty brand Illamasqua have all posted vlogs of Halloween make-up tutorials, on both their own e-commerce sites and Youtube.com, with options to instantly shop the look. Clicking on relatively discreet corner dialogue boxes redirects users without stopping the video.

For more on YouTube engagement, see Beauty Boom on YouTube, Beauty Influencers Prove Power of Vlogging in Selling Beauty Online and the section Modern Media: Embracing Video Power in Retail Week Live, 2015.

For more on shoppable media, see Shoppable Content: Entertainment in our Anywhere Retailing Industry Trend.