Most people think of the weather as fickle and unpredictable. In that context, making business plans based on weather would seem like a silly use of time.
But maybe it’s not so silly after all… What if considering the weather was actually a very strategic way to influence sales?
As more businesses grow in their desire and ability to make data-driven decisions, the significance of weather data should not be overlooked. Weather is always exerting its influence on consumer behavior – consciously or not. Here’s why it’s important, and what a business can do.
The Psychology of Weather
Some industries – like lawn care or swimwear – are clearly weather-driven. But, non-seasonal products and services are affected, too, and to a surprisingly large degree. According to the National Retail Federation, more than 90 percent of a business’s annual weather-driven sales come from day-to-day changes in temperature and precipitation that influence consumer shopping patterns and behaviors.
The weather has a known influence on mood, and anything that affects mood has the power to shape behavior. But, the weather’s impact can be complex, subtle, and not always obvious by casual observation. Through its own study of weather and the retail impacts, Walmart uncovered some incredibly detailed nuances. Sunny and 75? Walmart customers will respond better to ads about berries.
As evidenced by Walmart’s deep analysis, it’s possible to get very granular into weather effects. But even looking just below the surface can create a whole new appreciation for the weather’s role in sales and marketing.
Can You Really Plan for the Weather?
Weather intelligence is a form of data analytics that synthesizes historical weather data with a businesses sales data to uncover important patterns and trends. These will be unique to each business, based on the industry, geography, and customer profile.
Two identical business's in different parts of the country can experience very different responses from the same weather conditions. For example, a northern-climate customer experiencing 65-degrees and sun on the heels of winter will perceive the weather as warm and nice. A customer in a typically warm climate may feel a 65-degree day as chilly and not-so-nice. These differences in perception can result in very different behaviors.
Many make the mistake of thinking that because weather can’t always be precisely forecasted, it’s not really possible to incorporate it – and the anticipated consumer behavior – into strategic plans. Instead of thinking about weather as driving short-term actions, zoom out to consider weather as a driver of larger patterns.
Weather intelligence insights can inform strategic decisions such as:
- How customer behavior aligns with specific temperatures, temperature changes, or weather events.
- How customer segments react differently to weather conditions.
- When to predict peak sales by product or time period.
- Which weather patterns lead to sales troughs.
What Can You Do With Weather Data? Five Things to Try This Summer.
- Promote the right products. Understand exactly which products and services perform better during the summer months and develop timely seasonal ad campaigns.
- Create weather-responsive advertising triggers. Automatically display digital ads triggered by conditions in the five-to-seven day forecast.
- Personalize your advertising. Incorporate data about real-time current weather conditions along with a customer’s sales history to create tailored messaging.
- Run cyclical campaigns. Plan campaigns during the time periods that customers are more likely to request services – and also during traditionally slow times – to influence behavior and even out sales ebbs and flows.
- Manage inventory and staff. Optimize supplies, inventory, and staff based on the weather-related demand implications., improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of business operations.
Interested in learning more about how the weather uniquely influences your business sales? Schedule a conversation to learn more.