How weather influences product sales
Talking about the weather is more than just small talk.
This natural phenomenon, while one may not immediately notice, affects a person’s behavior. Years of research in the field of psychology show that there is a link between the weather and a person’s mood as well as how one reacts in his daily life.
While weather has been established to affect one’s mood, marketing researches reveal that it affects consumer behavior too. Understanding consumer behavior is key to unlocking opportunities to boost sales and revenue. In this case, keeping yourself up to date with weather forecasts will help you create more appealing marketing campaigns.
What Consumers Purchase Depending On The Weather
Several factors affect consumer behavior: cultural, social, economic, and psychological aspects are some of the biggest considerations. Weather, on the other hand, was not in the picture until a few years ago, when researchers made a breakthrough on weather-based marketing.
Direct effects of weather changes are of course more observed on seasonal products. Sales for swimwear and sunblock increase during the summer season while demand for coats and boots rises once fall starts to kick in.
You might be wondering: But how do brands with seasonal products still manage to sell during off-season? Instead of thinking their products are a hard sell, brands use the weather/season aspect to still make sales, albeit not as huge as their numbers during the regular season.Hubspot sums up the strategies that some of the brands use to stay on top of their slow times. Some offer huge discounts on last season’s collection while others create off-season marketing content.
Aside from the obvious items needed for each season, there are other products that consumers use all year round that tend to get more attention when the weather changes.
Personal Care Products
Take the example of shampoos. On seasons when humidity is high or in tropical regions, hair tend to go frizzy. Anti-frizz shampoos are more effective in combating the effects of humidity. The same goes during fall and winter season when hair tends to go limp due to the cold. Women, during this time, would usually switch to shampoos that add volume. Moisturizers are used all throughout the year, but when the wind gets colder, people tend to look for products with more intensive moisturizing effects.
The brand that understands how the weather affects their sales wins. This is what Pantene did in their Haircast campaign. They knew that women had bad hair days mostly due to the weather. Instead of riding the sales fluctuations, the brand took the weather on their side and made any weather change work for them.
Here’s a sample of how at 89-degrees, the weather app will tell you to use a moisturizing shampoo:
Even food is affected by the change in seasons and the corresponding weather that comes with it. This article on Everyday Health discusses the reasons why appetites increase in winter and one of it is simply basic biology. Our bodies are preparing for the cold months ahead so in a study, it was no surprise when they found out that calorie intake increases during fall and steadily rises until the winter. People will stock up on food in preparation for the coming cold days ahead.
In an article on the The Washington Post, they have explored weather-related food cravings. In winter, everyone reaches out for his or her favorite comfort food. Once the temperature starts to rise, it’s time for BBQ and burgers once again.
Weather affects not only buyer’s perception for consumable products; it goes the same for vehicles too. In this study, researchers dug into US vehicle sales to found out if weather plays a role in how buyers choose which type of vehicle to buy.
They have observed a 6% increase in the sales of 4WD vehicles during winter and snowstorm season. In the same weather-triggered fashion, convertible sales increase by 5.4% once the temperature goes higher. Here’s a graph comparing sales data for both types of vehicle:
As to whether the owners plan to keep the vehicles they bought at the heat (or cold) of the moment, that will depend on how long the customer sees himself using the car. If you see a new 4x4 vehicle in the used car market after the winter season, you can say that someone made an impulsive weather-induced purchase.
Consumers who are well aware of this particular behavior does the opposite: purchase a convertible at a bargain price in winter.
How Consumers Purchase Depending On The Weather
The manner of how customers purchase products is affected by changes in the weather too. In extreme weather conditions, people would normally want to stay indoors to avoid the winter cold or extreme hot sun.
Weather Unlocked cites different examples of how the changes in weather translate to sales. Here’s an insightful graph showing the relationship of online sales and the number of sunshine hours:
When it is dark and gloomy outside, people would rather make their purchases online. The same goes for physical stores too. They would see a decline in sales during these periods but when it’s warm enough to go for a walk outside, consumers would enjoy a beautiful day outdoors and visit physical shops instead.
There’s a slight deviation to this though. In places where people are more used to a frequently changing weather pattern, consumers can be more tolerant. Some people would still prefer to walk to the shop even when it’s raining. This was the conclusion from a study from Rakuten, an e-commerce company. The behavioral changes also depends on how adjusted the consumers are. How a consumer behaves is clearly not global when it comes to a local varying factor like the weather. It largely depends on their location so it is important that you clearly understand your target audience.
5 Strategies to Make The Weather Changes Work For You
Just like the way supermarkets rely on weather predictions to increase stocks of particular products, use these weather changes, and the consumer behavior that comes with it, to your brand’s advantage.
1. Weather Based Advertising: Online (AdWords & PPC) and Offline
Advertisers now make use of technology to come up with some of the most engaging weather-based outdoor ads. Take for example the successful campaign for McDonald’s in Amsterdam. When the temperature reached a record breaking 38.7 degrees, a display panel with 100 free McFlurry cups automatically opened. It was a cool way to raise brand awareness and to get the people thinking just how refreshing a cup of McFlurry is on an extremely hot day.
Here’s a photo of the heat sensitive outdoor campaign:
Coca-cola also made use of the same heat sensitive technology with their varying vending machine price. The beverage price on their vending machines in Spain changed depending on the temperature. The higher the temperature got, the lower the price for a bottle of drink. Clever, right?
It does not have to be all about outdoor advertising. You can stay relevant through weather changes with your online banner ads. That’s what our online weather-based advertising strategies can do for you.
Here’s how McDonald’s does it: the company shows ads for coffee in locations with low temperature and ads for McFlurry in sunny areas. McDonald’s is clearly an expert in WBAs.
With weather forecasts data updated every 15 minutes, you can target local consumers depending on their location and corresponding weather condition. You can also create custom banners for your ad to match a particular weather. Increase your impressions by setting the bid price for each click depending on the weather condition. For example, you can configure to change the bid price from $1.30 to $0.6 when the weather changes from sunny to rainy. This automatic change in bid price helps ensure that your ads stay relevant to your target audience.
Well, is it effective? Weather Unlocked lists Lingerie and swimwear retailer brand Bravissimo’s PPC campaign as one successful example of a weather-based campaign. The company established that their swimwear sales was significantly higher when the sun was bright and shining, regardless of the season and of the actual temperature. With this discovery, they launched a PPC campaign utilizing live weather feed to show their ads only in sunny locations in the UK.
After the 3-month campaign, PPC-driven revenue increased by 600% and conversion rate rose to 103%.
2. Weather-Triggered Social Media Ads
One of the case studies featured at Weather Unlocked makes use of Facebook Ads targeted for residents of a city on its sunny season.
Comparing the performance of both ads, the weather-specific ad received more engagement – with 89% more link clicks and 33% more comments than the generic ad.
Here’s another set of effective ads - this time from BMW:
Weather-activated ads is not yet a feature on Facebook Ads but Driftrock was able to achieve the same results by using real-time weather data and their own tool called Triggers.
The campaign for BMW xDrive brought in 30% more engagement in areas where it was snowing and a 16:1 ratio for their ROI.
3. Forecast-based Notifications
IBM, a pioneer player in gathering big data, identified sample industries that can benefit the most from weather analytics:
Insurance sector: Companies can set up a Weather Alert Service to notify vehicle insurance policyholders about upcoming weather disturbances such as a hailstorm. This act is a way to foster a good relationship with your clients since you’re looking out for their well being; consequently, this helps to reduce insurance claims.
Healthcare sector: Allergies and sickness increase when the weather changes. Pharmaceutical companies can use the data to advise the public to prepare and to advertise the use of antihistamines and other related medicines.
Aside from practical applications in the insurance and healthcare industries, this particular strategy works for retail too. Timberland uses 3-day forecast data to pick the right product to advertise to their customers.
4. Weather-Based Email Campaigns
Use analytics to send out weather-specific emails to your clients. Email on Acid cites this particular campaign from an athletic shoe company, Brooks, as one that makes good use of weather data.
Here’s how their campaigns look like depending on the customer’s location and the weather he’s experiencing:
Companies can use a weather-triggered automatic email software to send out relevant content to their customers.
Brands should work with historical data and correlate this with the season to identify bestselling products. Leverage on this knowledge to drive your advertising campaigns and increase conversions. Here’s how Starbucks did it well with their iced Caramel Macchiato email campaign on warm days:
5. Personalized Website
Numerous statistics from reputable marketing and big data companies all point to one conclusion: personalization sells. 73% of consumers prefer to engage with brands that speak to them through relevant individualized marketing.
Weather data is one way to inject personalization on your website. The example below shows a website display targeted for users in specific cold locations. Attic & Button takes advantage of this too by emphasizing their outerwear collection on the site’s banner.
Brands looking to increase sales outside of their current collection can utilize weather diversity. Topshop, while offering a fall/winter collection, still speaks to customers in sunnier locations through a small banner on their website. This allows the brand to sell both their current collection as well as their summer apparels.
It may be cold where you are but there’s always a sunny part in the world. Use weather-related data to widen your customer reach.
Unlike trends that go away after some time, the influence of weather to consumer behavior is constant. Brands have marketing strategies for different seasons but for daily weather changes, it’s good to have weather-specific marketing plans that you can use when the need arises.
Don’t ignore the way weather affects your buyer’s decision-making process. Instead, do your research, collect historical data, get to know your market, and understand how you can turn a dark and gloomy day or an extremely hot summer day to a marketing jackpot.
The big brands have done it, profited well from it, and you should too.