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Montclair Study: Barbie Dominates the Halloween Costume Conversation on Social Media

Posted in: School of Communication and Media News

A graphic showing dates and numbers in thousands of social media mentions about costumes people might choose for Halloween, specifically around the fictional Barbie and Ken characters.

From the Big Screen to Halloween, Barbie also Dominates the Costume Conversation on Social Media

 *A study of more than 46,000 Social Media Posts and a Google Trend Analysis finds Barbie costumes are res­­oundingly more popular than costumes for Ken, Star Wars and Marvel characters*

Move over, black and orange, and step aside for the color that is going to dominate Halloween this year, “Barbie Pink.” And yes, Ken, “it won’t matter what you do, you will always be number two,” at least when it comes to Halloween costumes in 2023. And those wildly popular Star Wars and Marvel character costumes traditionally seen during the “spookiest” time of the year? It seems they won’t match the popularity of the fictional character, Barbie, who reemerged this year on the pop culture scene after the incredible success of the Warner Bros. film “Barbie” released in July.

A team of faculty from the Joetta Di Bella and Fred C. Sautter III Center for Strategic Communication in the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University today released its most recent study, with this one focusing on 2023 Halloween costume trends. Highlights from the study utilizing Brandwatch and Google Trends include:

  • Google Trends offered the most popular costumes ranking through their “frightgeist,” highlighting key Halloween costume trends powered by searches. According to this frightgeist, Barbie is the most popular costume of the year for Americans.
  • From October 1 to October 24, internet interest in Barbie costumes was 273.6% higher than activity for Ken costumes, according to the conducted Google Trends Analysis. Given the predictive nature of search interests on consumers’ purchasing intent and social behavior, the data implies that Barbie costumes will almost certainly be much more popular than Ken outfits. As was noted in Ryan Gosling’s song in the film, “doesn’t seem to matter what I do, I’m always number two.”
  • From October 1 through October 24, a Google Trends analysis showed interest in Barbie costumes was 787.5% higher than activity for Marvel costumes and 545.4% higher than activity for Star Wars costumes, as indicated by the Google Trends Analysis. Like Ken, the trend analysis shows that this Halloween likely means more pink with fewer lightsabers and superhero capes.
  • With more than 277,000 social media conversations observed around Halloween during October 1 through October 25, more than 30% of the conversations surrounded Halloween costumes. Of those conversations, more than 46,000 social media mentions discussing Barbie and Ken costumes were collected on Brandwatch, specifically. The co-occurrence “Barbie” and “popular Halloween costumes” among social conversations saw a steep 61% increase in October. Supporting Google’s data as the most searched costume of the year, social conversations on Barbie and Ken costumes revolved around the anticipation of Barbie and Ken being the best costumes for Halloween 2023, from where to get Barbie costumes, deciding which Barbie to be (e.g., Cowgirl Barbie), and anticipating celebrity couples to dress up as Barbie and Ken (e.g., Taylor and Kelce).
  • Social Media users also enthusiastically shared their intention to dress as Barbie or Ken. Users gushed about the excitement of creating a “pink utopia” for this Halloween, which was specifically associated with key words such as “ridiculously fun,” “spirit,” “family-friendly,” “Barbieland,” “neighborhood coordination,” etc. With 48% of the conversation being contributed by males, there was excitement and sarcasm surrounding those dressing up as Ken.

“It seems that Barbie has successfully made a return in 2023, prevailing again at the pinnacle of popular culture. More than 46,000 social conversations in the month of October centered on Barbie and Ken costumes,” said Dr.  Jin-A Choi, assistant professor of Advertising at Montclair. “News outlets, brands, and events were keen to seize this opportunity during this Halloween season to use Barbie and Ken as keywords and hashtags to jump aboard the hottest Halloween trend and enhance the visibility of their messages.”

“Barbie, once an arcane hobby, has torpedoed all other traditionally favored Halloween costumes, such as princess, spider-man, witch, batman, fairy, vampire, or ninja,” noted Dr. Yi Luo, Associate Professor in Strategic Communication at Montclair. “Especially, the association between pink and Barbie has been exponentially amplified through online searches and discussions on social channels.”

The study was conducted by faculty Dr. Jin-A Choi, Dr. Yi Luo and Dr. Bond Benton. It is the tenth study released from the School’s Joetta Di Bella and Fred C. Sautter III Center for Strategic Communication, which provides social media analytics tools and training for faculty and students for classroom learning and research projects.


About the School of Communication and Media: Founded in 2012, the School of Communication and Media offers a range of dynamic programs in communication and media to a talented and diverse student population of over 1,800. Offering degrees in film and television, social media and public relations, advertising, journalism and digital media, sports communication, communication and media studies, animation and visual effects, and an MA in public and organizational relations, the School prepares the next generation of communication and media practitioners and leaders. The School houses award-winning student programs that include WMSC Radio, The Montclarion newspaper, Hawk Communications Agency, the Red Hawk Sports Network, Hawk+ OTT streaming platform, and News Lab, as well as the Center for Cooperative Media, which serves the public by working to grow and strengthen local journalism. Student projects and programs have recently received national recognition from PRSSA’s Bateman Competition, an Edward R Murrow Award, several Marconi Award nominations, and a College Television Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Media Contact: Keith Green, School of Communication and Media, 973-655-3701 or