Go Big or Ghoul Home: Why Gen Z Loves Autumn and Halloween So Much

“And not caring when people make fun of pumpkin-flavoured stuff cause you love it, and are happy it’s all the rage, and people who dress their dogs in costumes on Halloween and fires in fireplaces and maroon, hunter green, mustard yellow colour combos.”

Don’t fear: we’re not trying our luck at poetry. In fact, those words were authored by none other than Taylor Swift back in 2014, in a giddy Tumblr post that gushed over the joys of Autumn. 

Funnily enough, Taylor isn’t alone in her obsession. In fact, for many, Autumn (or Fall, for our US readers) isn’t just a season: it’s an aesthetic, a feeling and, well, a way of life. It’s the season of cosiness, of Gilmore Girls, of scented candles and hot tea. No wonder 45% of Americans say it’s their favourite time of year. 

So, what is it about Autumn that Gen Z loves so much?

Autumn is a season steeped in nostalgia. It marks the start of get togethers, tradition and community-based activities. These activities create lasting memories with our loved ones – so it’s no wonder that when the season rolls around again, we go all introspective, plug in some Phoebe Bridgers, and anticipate the good times ahead. 

Autumn is also a transitional time. This transition is tied into nostalgia for Gen Z: reminding older members of this cohort of the new school year, high school crushes, and crunching through the leaves in their hometown.

Gen Z and nostalgia

Studies have shown nostalgia to be a positive coping mechanism – helping us soothe ourselves and re-establish our connections to the world. When we feel panicked, we want to be reminded of consistency; and for many, that comes from thinking about happy memories from the past. It’s for this reason that we associate nostalgia with cosiness – and perhaps why “cosiness” is so often associated with Autumn.

This obsession has meant businesses are seeing a massive rise in the popularity of seasonal goods

Brands know how to capitalise on this sentiment, too.

Stores like TKMaxx, Anthropologie and Habitat are seas of cinnamon-scented products – and that’s just the candles.

These products look to fill nostalgic voids, through the comforting auras of candles and fairy lights.

Plus, the marketing for brands is pretty much already done for them, thanks to Gen Z’s visual nature. Young consumers are taking to TikTok to show off their Autumnal hauls, whilst other decorating videos have gone viral (and caused some products to sell out immediately!).


B&M Bargains – AUTUMN HAUL🤎🍂🎃 I’m obsessed with B&MS new in autumn range, they have such a variety of autumnal decor.. I’m obsessed with the chopping board and the pumpkin moulds which were only £2.50😍🎃 #fall #autumn #autumnhaul #fallhaul #beautifulfall #halloween #fallvibes #spooktober #fallcolours #autumnvibes #october #spookyseason #halloweendecor #falldecor #autumnaesthetic #bandmhaul #fyp

♬ There She Goes – The La’s

And when does Autumn truly reach its peak?

Halloween is, of course, the anchor of Autumn: Jack O’Laterns walked so pumpkin spice could run. 

And whilst Gen Zers might be a little past their trick or treating peak, celebrations are still very much on the cards. In fact, 80% of this cohort will be celebrating this spooky holiday. In the UK, Halloween is predicted to rake in a whopping £1 billion in sales, as consumers flock to purchase costumes, decorations and sweets. This has more than doubled since 2013, when revellers only spent around £230 million.

Is this a sort of spooky exceptionalism?

We recently revealed that 83% of those aged 16-24 said the cost-of-living crisis was going to affect their spending habits this Christmas. Given the fanfare that surrounds Christmas, it feels surprising that consumers are placing more commercial importance on Halloween.

But should it?

Gen Z are the biggest spenders when it comes to Halloween. Yep, the average young shopper is spending around £46 on celebrations, decorations and costumes. 

This rise in spending habits could be attributed to the role of social media and advertising: younger generations have been exposed to Halloween marketing from an early age. Plus, Halloween is a visual festival; it’s a great way to showcase some good old self-expression and creativity. We see this every year with beauty creators taking part in spooky tutorial countdowns.

Equally, with TikTok now chasing hot on Google’s heels for the search engine crown, many consumers are flocking to this platform to find costume inspiration.

And when Gen Zers aren’t using themselves as Halloween canvases, they very much want brands to get involved in this seasonal extravaganza. According to our data, 50% of Gen Z in the UK want brands to make Halloween a key part of their seasonal messaging. This number increased to 62% for US respondents.

Halloween is also a holiday tied to pop culture

If there’s one thing Gen Z lives and breathes, it’s pop culture. Halloween is a holiday that both inspires and informs this: celebrities deck their houses out with Halloween paraphernalia and costumes are inspired through trends, memes and iconic pop culture moments.

Go big or ghoul home: which brands won over Gen Z this spooky season?

Get out of my swamp, Airbnb

The OG Shrek film came out in 2001 – over two decades ago. Yet, to this day, it remains a ridiculously popular movie, and a firm Gen Z cult classic. 

So, imagine the excitement when the most famous fictional swamp in the world became an IRL destination, thanks to AirBnb. Shrek-lovers can travel far, far away (*to the Scottish highlands) to stay in this former refuge for fairytale creatures, for free, from the 27th-29th of October. Just in time for the hallo-weekend…

Eerie meets camp: Burger King’s Gen Z Ghost Whopper

From debuting black and green buns, implementing an in-app “ghost detector”, and a memorable stunt of dressing up as arch-nemesis McDonalds, Burger Kings’ Halloween legacy is pretty strong. 

This year, the brand unveiled a 60-second horror short to promote their Ghost Pepper Whopper. Tailored around a Gen Z audience, the brand looked to TikTok to find out what this cohort is interested in when it comes to the world of horror. The answer? Camp. 

“It’s the M3gan dance. It’s Mia Goth screaming ‘I’m a star!’ from ‘Pearl.’ It’s those super campy moments, which became a north star of inspiration—like, oh my gosh, that’s something that sticks that we can jump on,” said Andrew Pattee, creative director at Dentsu. 

You can check out the ad below…

Closing remarks

Whilst the UK isn’t quite as ahead as our American counterparts when it comes to Autumn and the spookiness that comes with it, we’re definitely getting there. And what’s so wrong with being a little obsessed with a certain season? In these times of uncertainty, sometimes comfort comes in the form of a pumpkin-spiced latte and a crisp blue sky.

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