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Halloween Comes; Childhood Fears Increasing Faster Than Candy Sales
Minnesota Ag Connection - 10/13/2017

It's a terrifying time to be a kid in America, according to the 1,000+ kids who participated in a newly-released Gen-Z study for The Family Room, a strategic research and brand consultancy whose insights are sought by clients including General Mills, McDonald's, Mattel, Viacom, Whole Foods, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

At the core of The Family Room's work is a 10-year project mapping the shifting emotional landscape of kids, tweens, teens, moms, and dads around the world. What the Family Room calls their "Passion Point" study provides a fascinating window into the soul of families. These insights into the evolution of the emotional priorities of families provides an invaluable roadmap for marketers.

"As Halloween approaches this year, it's not so much candy sales we see increasing as fear," says The Family Room's founder and CEO George Carey. "Parents are anxious about predators behind every tree, sex offenders, human traffickers, and school bullies jumping out at their kids. Recent events in Charlottesville and Las Vegas have given parents even more to worry about. But it's no longer just parents bubble-wrapping their children. In our Gen-Z Passion Point study, kids between the ages of 6-18 reported that they don't want to go outside because they fear for their safety."

"Three years ago, the 'Safety And Protection' Passion Point averaged number eight on kids' emotional spectrum. In 2017, it has shot up to number three and there is an astonishing increase in the number of kids who report 'my safety and protection' as their number one Passion Point."

"Kids as young as six years-old say they worry about terrorist attacks, being shot in their schools, breathing toxic air, the effects of global warming, being cyber bullied, and 'not getting into a good college,'" Carey says. "Two-thirds of 6- to 18-year-olds say they worry about these things every month and about one in five worry about their personal safety when they leave home every day!"

Equally alarming is the parental side of this story. After 10 years of consistently ranking children's education as their number one Passion Point, education plummeted to number seven on parents' emotional spectrum and the 'Safety And Protection' Passion Point rocketed to number one. Carey says: "More parents are worried about their kids' safety than their education, their family's financial security, or the family's ability to relax and have fun."

"Amidst this fear epidemic, when families don't want to go out, the implications go way beyond Halloween. Restaurants can expect to see continued growth in their drive-through business so that people never have to leave the safety of their cars. Fear is terrible for families' emotional well-being, but good news for Amazon, Walmart, and other delivery services, which will likely continue to boom. Streaming videos will become increasingly more popular than outings to the cineplex, and family entertainment and leisure companies would do well to create fun experiences that bring families together in comforting situations."

"It has never been a scarier time to be a nine-year-old than it is today," Carey concludes. "No matter how frightening their costumes are, this Halloween's trick or treaters will be more scared of you than you are of them. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't stock up on candy. With all those parents along for protection, and the comfort food you'll want yourself, you may need more candy than ever."

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