- Neighborhood social network Nextdoor partnered with retailer Party City on an augmented reality (AR) experience for Halloween as the pandemic disrupts trick-or-treating plans. Nextdoor users can unlock Halloween-themed "virtual visitors" by tapping on icons in its "treat map," a limited-time feature that lets people tell neighbors they're handing out candy, according to an announcement.
- After tapping on the icons, the Halloween-themed AR content appears in the camera feature of Nextdoor's app, letting users snap pictures with the characters and share them in the app's newsfeed. Nextdoor will release new virtual characters in the treat map throughout the month.
- The treat map also shows nearby Party City locations marked with a special icon, connecting Nextdoor users with information to drive store visits as people stock up on Halloween supplies.
Nextdoor's collaboration with Party City on AR content may inspire families to celebrate Halloween in a way that follows social distancing guidelines during the pandemic. About three quarters (73%) of Nextdoor users said they're looking for alternatives to trick-or-treating this year, the app found in a nationwide poll. Handing out candy to kids who go door-to-door or hosting a crowded indoor costume party are among the higher-risk activities that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend people avoid this year.
Nextdoor responded to consumers' changing desires this year by updating its treat map, which the company says is its most popular seasonal feature, to highlight activities like haunted décor, pumpkin-carved projects or a "costume wave parade" that lets kids dress up while practicing social distancing. The revamped mobile map can help app users plan Halloween activities that are fun for kids, even if the tradition of trick-or-treating is curtailed.
For Party City, the sponsorship of AR content in Nextdoor's app will remind users that they can still celebrate Halloween by dressing up in costumes and hosting at-home activities that make the occasion enjoyable for kids. Because Party City's locations are marked in Nextdoor's treat map, the retailer can help to drive foot traffic to stores while urging people to check in with the app to see new AR content. The promotional effort comes as retailers are expecting a slight dip in consumer spending for the holiday, though sales of candy and decorations are forecast to be more stable, according to the National Retail Federation.