There is something odd about Halloween that makes it different from all other holidays. It’s grossly one-sided.
Think about it: at Christmas we give gifts, but also receive them. On birthdays, we also give gifts and throw parties, knowing that full well we’ll have our turn when our birthday comes around.
But Halloween is different. We go out, spend our hard earned cash on candy. We decorate our homes, and then invite perfect strangers to knock on the door or ring our doorbell, ooh and ahh over their costumes, and then give them candy.
We spend our money so we can just give stuff to other people. And we get nothing in return.
This goes against all of the principles of the Social Exchange Theory, which is predicated upon both parties in a relationship getting something of value that pleases them. In a normal business relationship, consumers come to our business and give us their money and we give them a product or service in return. The consumer generally is happy because while they have given away their money, they have gotten something they want or need, that they believe is at least equal to the value of what they have paid. The business is happy, because they have sold something in return for money. Win-Win. Right?
But on Halloween, we give. And give. And give. And at the end of the night, we have to clean up our decorations and have nothing to show for it but an empty bowl.
And yet, we feel good about it. Go figure.
Maybe there’s a marketing lesson in there for some of us….
What can you learn about from the way we celebrate Halloween and the art of giving?