Look no further than the expansive infographic the National Retail Federation published after the 2013 Halloween retail season to understand just how massive the holiday has become in terms of commercial impact:

  • 113 million people hand out candy each year.
  • 70% of Americans buy Halloween decorations (trumping the amount of people who buy Christmas decorations).
  • Consumers will spend an average of $28 on costumes.

Now that you understand the ‘what’, you may be pondering a bigger question: why? What is the emotional and cultural significance of Halloween that compels nearly 158 million people to celebrate the holiday?

A main (not to mention, cool) reason Halloween is a multi-month, cross-generational trick or tweeting holiday phenomena is because it deeply rooted in a fundamental human tendancy: escapism. Escapism is defined as ‘an activity or form of entertainment that allows people to forget about the real problems of life.’ Halloween is about indulging in candy and sweets, embracing creativity and dressing up like a clown, monster, or your favorite character from Frozen. Escapism separates Halloween from other holidays of the year by allowing humans to throw convention and caution to the wind. Especially in today’s world of 24-7 work hours and social connectivity, Halloween is even more about this pure detachment from reality. And how good does that feel!?

When it comes to seasonal marketing, brands may question whether to bypass Halloween and start promoting Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Christmas now. However, I would caution brands who choose to overlook the enormous commercial potential of Halloween. Saavy brands relish in Halloween’s opportunity to take consumers on a detour from everyday life and encourage happiness, playfulness and youth! The real question marketers should be asking: How can our brand help consumers escape on their best Halloween ever?

Note: This post originally appeared on the Flightpath blog.