Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun

The catchy 1960s jingle certainly has a valid point. “Double your pleasure, double your fun” rings even more true for both fun-seekers and party retailers this Halloween, as “dual” costumes are taking center stage this year.

The idea of dual costumes is a complementary look that creates an overall unique and fun statement. Instead of one person dressing up for a night of fun, people in complementary attire can — you guessed it! — double the pleasure and the fun.

Twin Billing
Dual costumes — also known as group or couples’ costumes in the industry — are a simple concept that probably began with Adam and Eve, the perfect pair. While it can be fun to go to a party dressed as Adam, the look is more complete with an attractive-looking Eve to finish the punch line.

So why are dual costumes so popular among consumers these days? It could be because they’re a fun, easy and entertaining idea for any demographic. From a male/female pairing at an adult-themed party to an adult/child pairing on a night of trick-or-treating, dual costumes are a great way to celebrate the holiday in a cohesive, yet unique, manner. But more importantly, they are a unique way to have fun and be the talk of any Halloween party or
trick-or-treat street.

Gary Schneider, of Rasta Impasta, recalled the first dual costume they created: the Plug and Socket.

“Since then, the concept of dual costumes has come a long way. There are a lot more options now,” Schneider said. “It’s an idea that makes everyone’s job easier. Often times, guys like quick, easy and funny, and women go for sexier or funny. So, stuff like Ketchup and Mustard and Salt and Pepper are quick, easy costumes to wear. They’re fun, they’ll always get a laugh and they’ll always be great conversation starters for the party.”

Lar Hovsepian, of Dreamgirl International, has noticed dual costumes focusing on movie characters in recent years. With the new Twilight series movie “New Moon” and “True Blood” and other vampire television shows drawing crowds in, Hovsepian said the gothic vampire dual costume is a great way to make an impression at a party.

The “Fang Bangin’ Fun Vamp” and “Fang’ Bangin’ Fun Vampire” couple is one of Dreamgirl’s best selling dual costumes because it’s a flattering pair that falls in line with this growing vampire trend,” Hovsepian said.

She also reiterated the popularity of dual “gag” costumes. No matter what the theme, she said, “Halloween is about making an entrance wherever you go and stepping into character, be it through the wearing of sexy, funny, novel, bright or unique costumes.”

A Perfect Pair
Dual costumes aren’t just a passing fad for consumers. It’s an important trend that retailers should address when stocking their shelves. Whether a store caters to a more family-oriented demographic or carries more adult-themed items, dual costumes can have a strong place in retailer sales. In addition, retailers know the importance of emphasizing accessories, such as shoes and makeup, in order to increase sales. What accessory could be better than a second costume that doubles sales?

“It’s a great benefit to the retailer to sell dual costumes,” Schneider said. “It can work for a lot of different scenarios and spur a lot of ideas and impulse purchases. And it enhances sales.”

That’s why it’s important for retailers to maximize their merchandising efforts.

“Since going to parties often happens in pairs or groups, the shopping portion is also done in groups, and what better way to capture your target’s attention than to have a dual costume merchandised in the store?” Hovsepian asked. “There are some costumes that simply don’t stand out as much if merchandised alone, so it’s always best to include some dual costumes into the line.”

For example, a butler costume may not be as interesting if shown by itself; however, if it is merchandised with a sexy maid, then you have a theme to show to the customer.

Other tips for maximizing the dual costumes trend include making sure you have the available inventory and know your target market. Do you cater to more children and family-oriented customers? If so, you should offer children, pet and family-friendly adult costumes, such as Rasta Impasta’s Ketchup and Mustard or matching adult and child Teletubbies. For other stores that cater to fewer children and a more adult market, you can offer more adult-themed options.

Also, be sure to clearly display the dual options available. Decorate a window that emphasizes the endless possibilities. For instance, show a boy basketball player with a girl cheerleader. Be sure to stock your shelves in a manner that reminds your customers that a dual costume idea exists, such as placing a doctor’s costume next to a nurse’s costume. If you do any seasonal advertising, consider showing off a whole family of costumes in the ads.

Most importantly, make sure your staff is educated. Before the holiday rush, show all of your employees the possibilities that can be added to any costume purchase — shoes, makeup and especially a complementary costume. Before closing the sale, your staff should show customers dual costume options that go beyond the obvious man/woman pairing.

For example, when someone on your staff sells a Shrek costume, suggest a Donkey costume for the dog. This could apply for two kids, two pets and the parent/child coupling.

Twice as Nice
With such an easy and fun way to double the pleasure and fun for customers and retailers, what’s in store for the dual costumes trend in upcoming years?

“Dual costumes will continue to be a hit in the market as, once again, Halloween is about standing out and making an entrance,” Hovsepian said, “and dressing in pairs or even in groups is a good way to achieve that.”

Schneider agreed, adding that in future years, there’s a lot of potential for growth. For 2010, he predicts more family options and more funny adult stuff will be standard, so look for new versions of that.

“Definitely things like the Crayola, Fraggle Rock and Kellogg cereals,” he said. “For example, we’re doing Crayola for next year, so we have adult crayons and kid crayons, so the store can potentially put out a four-foot section of all the sizes so a family can go out as a group.”

Also, be sure to look for manufacturers to add an easy complement to already popular characters.

For instance, Rasta Imposta will be adding Pokey to its popular Gumby design.

“With Gumby, we knew the design would be good, but it turned out to be great,” Schneider said. “So how could we not add Pokey next year? It’s definitely something where we examine whether we have something successful that we can build a companion piece to.”

Hovsepian said a continued focus will be the male/female pairing, as they consistently do great in the market, as couples often go to parties together.

“Dual costumes do better in the adult market, as there are more themes to work with that may not be appropriate themes for children,” she said. “With the upcoming remake of 'Alice in Wonderland’ in the mix for 2010, I think we will see some interesting themes (such as Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Rabbit, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum).”

So pair up costumes however you see fit. One thing’s for sure: They’ll double customers’ fun and double retailers’ sales, making dual costumes a Halloween trend twice as nice.

Originally posted Friday, Jan. 8, 2010