Nov 25, 2014
State of the Costume Industry
Abby Heugel, Managine Editor

Rubie’s Costume Co. looks at what to expect and how to plan

As retailers, it can be hard to know how just where to put your time and energy year after year. Trends come and go and what might work one year could possibly fade out the next. To give you an inside perspective on the costume side of things, Party & Paper Retailer talked to Howard Beige, executive vice president of Rubie’s Costume Co., about the state of the costume industry in 2015.

PPR: In general, how is the costume industry looking going into 2015 in comparison to the past couple of years?

HB: I think 2015 will be the best year this industry has seen in many years. First, Halloween 2015 falls on a Saturday, and a weekend holiday always means an increase in adult participation. This results in increased sales of adult costumes, accessories, makeup and decorations.

Second, the economy seems to be recovering a little bit more each year, so Halloween 2015 should be the best Halloween this industry has seen in many years. Rubie’s also has some great new costumes based off new movies coming out in 2015 such as “Avengers 2,” “Star Wars Episode 7” and “Minions.”

PPR: What can retailers do to make the most of this weekend holiday?

HB: We recommend retailers expand their adult costumes category and related merchandise such as accessories, makeup, wigs and decorations. In addition, retailers should consider increasing their advertising and marketing budgets to accommodate for a much more celebrated weekend Halloween holiday.

PPR: Many retailers have noted that more customers are creating their own costumes by buying several accessories as opposed to one full costume. With that said, what are some must-have accessories for retailers, and how can they best market those options?

HB: This phenomenon is known as DIY (do-it-yourself), which allows the consumer to create their own unique look based on their favorite character. When the retailer prepares this program properly, they have the opportunity to sell just as many, if not more, of these accessories because many of the DIY products such as weapons, wigs, hats, vests, shoes and makeup not only sell to the consumer looking to create their own costume, but also sell to the consumer buying a package costume.

If the retailer makes a DIY display say for a superhero character, that would include wigs, shoes, gloves, headpieces, masks, makeup and weaponry. Some consumers will buy these accessories and combine it with their own clothing that they already have at home. Other consumers will buy a packaged costume and add on these accessories. This gives the retailer a dual opportunity to sell the very same accessories.

PPR: On the flip side, how can they market their products so that whole costumes are purchased instead?

HB: This would be accomplished by putting the full package costumes on display alongside the DIY program thereby benefiting as mentioned above. In order to maximize sales of DIY components as both costume accessories to sell along with costumes and also DIY components for people who want to assemble their own costumes, we suggest retailers display their products as follows:

Put DIY components such as wigs, hats, makeup and accessories in the center with child costumes featured on one side and adult costumes featured on the other. This will help DIY components being sold as an accessory to a full costume for both children and adults, as well as components being sold on their own to a person who is looking to build their own costume.

PPR: Our Halloween survey last year showed that the top licenses were “Despicable Me 2,” Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and superheroes. What do you think 2015 will bring?

HB: Superheroes are here to stay and will have a terrific year in 2015 with the new “Avengers 2” film and the brand-new addition of the DC Comics Arkham Origins video game. In addition, there is a lot going on with “Star Wars” and we will see “Star Wars Rebels Season 2” as well as the long awaited “Star Wars: Episode 7” in theaters for 2015.

Two other theatrical releases that will have a big impact on Halloween 2015 are the new movies “Minions” and “Jurassic World.” We also expect the following evergreen properties to remain very important for 2015 including: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Superman,” “Monster High,” “SpongeBob,” “Thomas the Tank” and Scooby Doo.

PPR: Finally, where do you see the costume industry going in the coming months in terms of consumer habits, the direction that products and financially speaking?

HB: In today’s busy world, consumers seem to be doing more and more last-minute shopping. I believe that retailers found for Halloween 2014 a larger percentage of their business was done the last nine days of the season than in prior years, and I believe that trend will continue for 2015 and beyond.

As the economy continues to recover, retailers will find that consumers are once again buying better quality costumes and coordinating them with more accessories then they have in recent years. The other trend that we will see is the increase in purchases of family themed merchandise, so that the entire family – including pets – can dress in a common theme.

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