Popular Halloween Costumes Visualized: Dethroning the Princess

If you’re anything like me (or the rest of the Delphic Digital team), October 31st is a date you look forward to every year. And like clockwork, each year it’s hard to ignore the mass of people dressing up as as their favorite character or trending pop culture icon. This year is no different, as we’re sure to see a fair share of Suicide Squad characters, political candidates, and of course Ken Bone impersonators.

With Halloween spending reaching an all time high this year at $8.4B, Delphic set out to investigate exactly how much pop culture influences halloween costume popularity? And what does this mean in terms of the $1.2B being spent on children’s halloween costumes alone?

Each year, the National Retail Federation publishes its Halloween Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, asking around 7,000 consumers about their Halloween shopping and planning for the year. The survey estimated a margin of error of +1.2 percentage points. Using the data from this survey, I broke out total spend on children’s costumes per year by the percentage of children planning to dress up as each costume to estimate the yearly spend. I then created a Tableau visualization showing the evolution of each costume over the past five years.  

Interestingly, princess costumes, which have been the top costume for the past 11 years, dropped to the #2 spot this year after superheroes, which gained an additional $25M in spend year over year. By overlaying data of major pop culture events relating to the costumes (such as movie and app releases) the effect of pop culture on Halloween costume popularity is blatantly obvious. In this case, superhero costumes can thank the eight major motion pictures released between 2015 and 2016 involving superheroes for their #1 costume spot (including The Avengers, Fantastic Four, and Captain America).

Click around the viz below for a better look at spikes and drops in popularity and spend of each costume, as well as the pop culture events driving them!

Looking for data visualization tips and tricks? Let us help.

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