In recent years, Halloween has evolved from an all-American tradition to a much-anticipated event for us Brits. Halloween spending in the UK is estimated to reach £777 million in 2023, a 13% increase from £687 million in 2022. The emerging trend of pick-your-own pumpkin farms is a testament to this growth, and the influence of social media is playing a significant role. Consumer behaviour shows a lean towards capturing and sharing memories of key calendar events online, presenting a golden opportunity for brands during these competitive marketing moments.
Making memories with family or friends is no longer confined to consumers’ intimate social sphere. Now, it’s more about capturing those memories to share online with a broader audience. Key calendar events such as Halloween offer chances to create traditions that become a yearly staple.
Pick-your-own pumpkin farms are no exception. UK farms have reported booming increases, with Tulleys Farm in West Sussex reporting a 25 to 50% rise in footfall to its pumpkin patch over the last five years. What started overseas as a family-fun activity has become popular, driven by their aesthetic appeal on social media feeds. With celebrities and content creators snapping shots among the gourds, vast online audiences follow suit to recreate their own.
While families with young children are predominantly the ones slipping into their wellies and wading out to pick the perfect pumpkin, the prevalence of peak photo opportunities for social sharing has invited a younger, more diverse crowd to the farms, too.
These engaged audiences are ready and willing to share experiences on their feeds, offering brands a huge opportunity to get in on the action. The experiential marketing opportunities are vast for brands to integrate into these spaces – providing photo opportunities, corn mazes, haunted houses and food and drink trucks—all to enhance the already on-trend experience by becoming part of the memory.
Content creators have expanded the reach of pumpkin picking beyond the confines of the farms. They inspire their followers with pumpkin-themed recipes, crafts and decorations, fuelling a higher engagement with the autumnal activity.
Some farms have collaborated with influencers, offering free visits in return for vlogs, blogs and reviews on social media to drive visitors to their patches. This tactic to promote pumpkin patches as trendy and aspirational is exponentially responsible for the upsurge in popularity in the UK.
Brands who wish to explore jumping on the pumpkin-picking tractor can align with like-minded content creators to infuse their products seamlessly into this arena. Finding space where brands and pumpkins effortlessly co-exist offers ample opportunities to expand reach and hit a highly engaged online audience.
Brands can explore how to create a distinct niche in the market, aiming to become synonymous with specific occasions. Just as Coca-Cola's Christmas truck tour is a symbol of the start of the festive season, brands can aspire to be the first association with events like the start of spring, May Day, or the summer solstice. Studying traditions and occasions that resonate with global consumers provides excellent insight into potential areas that could quickly become the next big calendar event through strategically timed social marketing campaigns and experiential activations.
In conclusion, the rise of pumpkin picking here signifies more than just a seasonal trend; it reflects changing consumer behaviours and the paramount role of social media. Brands have a unique opportunity to pioneer new experiences, tap into the aesthetics resonating with a digital-first audience, and become an integral part of the evolving traditions that shape how we celebrate key calendar events in the UK.