Feb 21, 2012
Marketing to Parents
Haley Beiter, Special to Party & Paper

Remind them that sometimes it’s easier to let someone else do the work

I am a 28-year-old stay-at-home mother of two. I live in the suburbs on a middle-class income and drive a minivan that my husband embarrassingly refers to as “new hotness.” I cook meals, schedule play dates and maintain a tight budget. My idea of a party is a good book and glass of wine with my friends, peace and quiet. Does that make me dull? Maybe, but it also makes me a party store owner’s target demographic. And I have valuable information to help owners increase their Halloween sales.

The mind of a mom can be a complex, scary place. It’s full of things like knowing exactly how long to reheat strained squash and the hidden locations of missing shoes, keys and pirate treasure. But there’s some valuable information in there, too – like what makes us buy a costume versus trying to make it ourselves. Once you understand the reasoning that moms use to make buying decisions, you’ll find that increasing costume sales is simply child’s play.

Moms want everything to be perfect when it comes to their kids, and Halloween is no exception. We picture our kids frolicking safely down the sidewalk with trick-or-treat bags in hand on a perfect fall evening amid a neighborhood full of candy, friends and fun.

The costumes are adorable and memorable. They’re well made without breaking the bank. And for a lot of moms, they’re homemade. So how do you convince do-it-yourself moms to put the needle and thread down and come shopping at your store? Promote and advertise what they’re looking for, plus a few other advantages that they won’t be able to recreate at home.

The Cute Factor
To dress my 4-month-old son in a costume requires patience, stamina and, quite possibly, a good set of earplugs. That’s why the costume better be amazingly adorable. I’ve never seen a mom look through an advertisement and pick out something scary. Our eyes always find the most adorably dressed baby, so stores should advertise plenty of cute costume ideas.

“Our 2012 non-licensed product line for children features new animal costumes such as giraffe, turtle and whale,” said Gary Schneider of Rasta Imposta. “You won’t find cuter animal costumes anywhere.”

But stores can offer more than just cuddly giraffes. Remind moms that a party store can provide variety, which comes in handy for older kids who want to pick their own style, cute or not. And stores can help add an extra touch of cuteness with accessories or more detailed costumes, which is something moms simply can’t do at home due.

A mom creating a princess dress may not make a matching tiara and wand due to strains on time, money and even skill. But the cuteness of the outfit, as well as store sales (and general happiness of the princess), would be more complete with such accessories. It’s also important to promote coordinating outfits for siblings, parents and even pets, because the only thing cuter than a giraffe is a giraffe with a circus ringmaster.

Quality and Price
The quality of made-at-home costumes depends entirely on the skills of DIY moms, which can vary from savvy seamstresses to divine duct tapers. Depending on price points, the quality of store-bought costumes can vary slightly as well. No matter what our level of capability, we’re always looking for quality, so it’s important to emphasize that as a reason for shopping.

In today’s economy, very few moms have the ability to say they’ll pay any price for their kids’ Halloween costumes. In my house, price matters greatly and to maintain a tight budget, I’m always looking for a good deal. It’s important to remind moms that your array of product offerings can fit any budget. Sales, coupons and “Buy One, Get One” specials can be a great way to give moms a good deal without losing out on overall sales.

The Memory Factor
Moms want to create a memory we can scrapbook about later. While DIY costumes can be memorable, the best memories come when kids are happy, and kids are happy when they get to choose their costumes. From Crayola crayons to cowboys, let moms know that you have a wide range of styles to choose from – especially licensed characters, because they can be difficult to recreate at home.

“We will be introducing costumes to the specialty markets featuring the characters from the Art Based property SO SO HAPPY,” Schneider said. “Rasta Imposta will develop five characters in two different styles of costumes. Our foam full-body costumes will be available in sizes 3-4 and 4-6 for children. Our girls hooded dress costumes will be made available for girls starting at age four all the way through teen sizes.”

The company is also featuring a few classic licensed properties in a new style of children’s dress costume.
“For the first time ever, girls starting at the age of four will be able to have a costume dress of their own featuring Tootsie Roll and Skittles candy brands,” Schneider said.

The Homemade Factor
For a lot of moms, making a child’s costume gives a feeling of satisfaction that can’t be duplicated by buying one at a store. It’s a feeling that stores simply can’t compete with, because no one can replace the hard work that went in to making a child’s Halloween perfect. And although that kind of accomplishment gives moms warm fuzzies inside, it’s important to remind moms that there are more important things that stores can offer – saving time and avoiding stress.

Buying a costume is infinitely quicker and easier than creating one. Quick and easy are two things every mom craves, but rarely admits to wanting. Store owners should remind moms that although we don’t have the satisfaction of devoting hours to the creation of a homemade costume, shopping at a party store can save enough time and stress to enjoy that picture-perfect neighborhood scene we have dreamed up in our heads.

Obviously, not all moms are the same. Each mom has different priorities, like preferring a more budget-friendly costume to a high-quality one. And other moms may pay for adorable at any cost. What’s most important is using your marketing and advertising to remind your target audience that they can find exactly what they’re looking for – and more – by shopping for their kids’ costumes.

As long as stores offer a wide variation of these factors mentioned above, any mom will be able to find what she’s looking for. In addition, every mom will be happy they saved enough time to hang out with their friends – peace and quiet.

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