Being a product of both the rural western United States and of early-90s grunge music, it should come as no surprise that I’m a big fan of flannel. I look forward to the fall so I can break out my enormous collection of flannel - from shirts to socks, hats to PJs, I got it all.
As I was pulling my glorious collection of flannel from its inglorious summer hibernation last week, one thing struck me: I need some new flannel clothing! This same thought didn’t come to me as I was jamming it back into the recesses of my closet in May and I realized something - my desire for new flannel is actually seasonal in nature. Like most of us, my retail needs are much different in October than they are in May or July or February. Weather events (small or large) as well as long-term weather trends can, and do, impact consumer purchase patterns.
There has been a great deal of research on consumer behavior, much of which revolves around the strong emotional factors in making purchases. This research has been around for a long time. Newer research, however, adds the factor of weather, some of which can be emotional as well. For example, a cloudy, dreary week may cause some consumers to stay in and order food, services or products to enhance their moods. Likewise, a sunny warm stretch of weather puts consumers in a good mood, and they are more likely to go out to brick and mortar stores and shop.
Weather has its own unique impact on purchasing behavior.
A Few Examples:
- Sears was able to determine that after 4 straight nights of severe cold, car batteries that were 5 or more years old would die. Using predictors in various locations, they then began a marketing campaign on the 3rd day of such a temperature trend to advertise special sales on batteries.
- Sports car dealers know that a temperature of 75ᴼ with sun will increase their sales of convertible models. Likewise, SUV dealers know that sales of 4-wheel drive vehicles will climb with the first large snowstorm of the winter.
- In the fall, when temperatures, dip below 70ᴼ, sales of mousetraps rise, as consumers prepare for the inevitable migration of mice into warmer places for the winter.
If a retailer is aware to these weather conditions in specific locations, a campaign including emails to that targeted geographical demographic which advertise specials and discounts is a great way to take advantage of how research says they will respond on those days.
Cold, dreary, gray patterns of weather tend to keep consumers indoors. However, they do have access to their devices, and online shopping during these cold times. Part of this may be emotional, of course, but the other factor is that shoppers have the time indoors to explore online purchases of things that they may have intended to buy anyway.
Early Winter Shelf Stocking
An early winter event, such as a snowstorm in October, has the immediate impact of consumers thinking about the holidays to come. In addition, these types of unseasonable weather events get consumers thinking and preparing for the next big storm. These are situations savvy retailers can take advantage of with appropriate planning.
It’s no surprise that weather effects every business, regardless of size, business model or location. But by using some research and data, a merchant can use the changing weather to address changing market attitudes and desires to increase sales.