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The Halloween Costume Gender Scare 2016

shutterstock_483055144Halloween can be scary even before thinking about buying a costume. The NRF reported that 171 million Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year and they will spend $3.1 billion on costumes alone. Here at Indix, we decided to take a look at where that money is going and what options people have when it comes to shopping online for Halloween costumes.

We tried to stay away from scary in our analysis and took a simple approach: We used the Indix Product Information Marketplace to analyze 226,707 in-stock costumes across 110 online stores and 305 brands, recorded over the last 90 days. Unfortunately, what we found was both fascinating and frightening at the same time.

Men Have Very Few Options

If you’re looking for a men’s costume, you’ve got the short end of the broomstick. We found that out of all of the costumes at online Halloween retailers, barely 5% are targeted at men. The other 95% are for women and children. Not only do men have fewer options than everyone else, but they also have to pay much more. On average, men’s costumes cost $78 — a huge pile of doubloons for just one night a year as a pirate. In comparison, women pay around $50 on average and both boys’ and girls’ costumes are about $56.

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Distribution of Costumes Across Segments

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Average Sale Price of Costumes Across Segments

Women Are Stuck with “Sexy”

That said, women’s costumes are no walk in the graveyard either. Almost one in three women’s costumes have the word “sexy” in their title. While there are plenty of consumers who buy Halloween costumes, we were surprised to see that if you’d like a “non-sexy” costume, you’ll end up paying double. Costumes with the word “sexy” in the title cost around $30, while costumes without it cost around $60. Stereotyping, anyone? How did “sexy” get associated with a “scary” holiday anyway? (In any case, I found looking at these “sexy” costumes at work to be rather “scary” from an HR perspective!)

Must Girls Be Princesses?

When it comes to kids, we saw a few differences between costumes for young boos and ghouls. When we did this exercise last year, we noticed a stark difference in the titles of costumes for boys and girls; boys could choose from many more career-themed costumes than girls could. A majority of the costumes targeted at young boys contained words like “muscles,” “wars,” or “ninja”, whereas costumes for girls contained words such as “princess,” “Cinderella,” “pink,” or “witch.” This year, we found that one in five costumes for girls have “princess” in the product title. And young girls who don’t want to dress as a princess have to pay 45% more for a non-princess costume. Who says princesses have to be wealthy?

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We’ve noticed a dramatic divide between costumes, prices, and the expectations retailers set for consumers. It appears that retailers incentivize women to dress sexy and girls to dress as princesses by making those the most affordable costumes. While there’s no way for us to know what the motivations or drivers of the prices might be, it sure could make checking out the costumes at your Halloween party more interesting. Or maybe just truly scary.

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