Candy makers are coming up with new ways to engage consumers in a Halloween season that will be unlike any other.

Hershey’s, along with the Halloween & Costume Association, has launched a site to help consumers stay safe while having Halloween fun. One of the most unique features is the embedded COVID-19 Risk Levels Dashboard, created by the Harvard Global Health Institute, which is an interactive map that shows COVID risk levels for each county in the U.S. Website visitors can hover over any county to see its current COVID risk level, and depending on the color code, the site provides a list of safe Halloween activities, which range from trick-or-treating in green zones, socially-distanced neighborhood candy hunts in orange zones, and virtual parties in red zones.

The site also encourages users to take the “safe house pledge,” which means that the household is following a set of social distancing guidelines for the holiday. Those who make the pledge can download a certificate to post on their window or door for others to see.

Another candy giant, Ferrero, is launching a campaign to help families celebrate Halloween. Each day in October, through influencer partners, digital advertising, and social media, Ferrero will share creative ways to make the most of the season with sweet treats from brands like Nutella, Kinder Joy, Butterfinger, and Baby Ruth.

“Halloween isn’t Halloween without treats, and our brands have been part of the holiday for generations,” said Mark Wakefield, senior vice president marketing, Nutella and Chocolate Snacks at Ferrero North America, in a statement. “This year, we expect treats to play an even bigger role in the memorable moments of Halloween for families and friends as they enjoy the traditions and excitement of the holiday all month long.”

To help consumers get the trick or treating experience at home, the American Licorice Co., maker of Red Vines and Sour Punch, has teamed up with Jelly Belly Candy Co., Goetze’s Candy Co., and Spangler Candy Co. to create the Boo Box. The box, which is for sale on the American Licorice Co.’s website, is filled with candy favorites from all four companies, as well as fun activities for the whole family.

In another effort to encourage families to stay at home, Mars Wrigley has created Treat Town, an app-based digital experience that allows users to virtually trick or treat for real candy. The app, which will launch October 1, offers users the ability to create personalized spooky avatars, customized Halloween decorations for their in-app “door,” and the ability to “knock” on the doors of family and friends across the U.S.

Participants can earn candy credits in the app, which can be redeemed for real Mars Wrigley products like M&M’s, Snickers, Twix, Skittles, Starburst, and more, at national retail partners, both online and in-store.

"The virtual Mars Wrigley Treat Town Halloween experience demonstrates how we're reinventing our business to bring better moments and more smiles to consumers" said Anton Vincent, president of Mars Wrigley North America, in a statement. "Our team pivoted quickly to save the traditions and celebrations of Halloween."

The Show Must Go On

Knowing that families across the U.S. still plan to celebrate Halloween, the?CDC has released new guidance on the safest ways to celebrate, listing lower, moderate, and high risk activities, as well as general guidelines on keeping safe around food and drink. In addition, local and state authorities have been making similar recommendations, and in some cases, like Los Angeles County, are banning large gatherings or parties and warning against trick or treating.

John Downs, the president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association responded to the CDC’s guidance in a statement, saying, “The CDC’s guidance reinforces that Halloween is happening and provides inspiration for creative and safe approaches to celebrating the holiday throughout the month of October. There’s no question that Halloween will look different this year, and innovative approaches endorsed by CDC like outdoor trick-or-treating can bring a little fun to the fall.”

Data from the NCA backs this up, with chocolate and candy sales up 13 percent from last year, with chocolate driving most of the growth. NCA spokesperson Carly Schildhaus told SFA News Daily that people and communities may have to get creative this year in how they celebrate the holiday, but, “make no mistake—Halloween is happening.”

“Seventy-four percent of millennial moms and young parents say this Halloween is more important than ever before—and 90 percent of the same group say that they can’t imagine Halloween without chocolate and candy, and that trick-or-treating is irreplaceable,” said Schildhaus.

“And at a time when so many Americans are feeling the effects of a serious and uncertain year, we in the confectionery industry are excited to help people enjoy a sense of joy and normalcy throughout the Halloween season,” she continued.

One of the ways the NCA is doing this is by partnering with top public health experts, nutrition professionals, and the CDC to launch Always a Treat, a website that takes the guesswork out of the holiday. The site offers tips for celebrating Halloween at a distance, at home, and how to healthily enjoy all the sweet treats that come it.

Related:?5 Retail Trends for the 2020 Holiday Season;?Consumers to Get Creative With Halloween.