Cloudy With A Chance Of Advertising: How To Cash In On The Weather

Upon wrapping up what was a rather warm winter, climate change is and continues to be a hot topic for all. We check the weather almost every day, plan our week ahead around it, and actively make decisions in response to what we see in the forecast. The weather impacts the clothes we wear, the food we eat, our skin and haircare routines, and many times, whether we shop online or go to the physical store. Frequent fluctuations in temperature and precipitation have kept the weather top of mind, presenting an opportunity for marketers to find new ways to be relevant. So how can brands enter that conversation?

By developing a marketing strategy that aligns with the weather, brands and retailers could see a huge competitive advantage. But before activating a strategy, it’s critical that we understand consumer behavior and how and where weather plays a role along the purchase decision journey.

How Does Weather Affect Consumers?



Studies have shown that temperature, humidity, and sunlight can have a significant impact on mood. According to a study by Kyle B. Murray, being exposed to sunlight can increase consumption and spending. According to the study, consumers were willing to pay 37% more for green tea, and 56% more for a gym membership due to exposure to sunlight. This proves that paying attention to weather-based mood triggers can truly prepare marketers to be reactive, allowing for brands to take advantage of the right conditions to drive purchase of product. One way retailers could get in front of consumers here would be by doing a last minute online sale for a big winter storm or monsoon to encourage consumers to spend their dollars without leaving their homes.

In addition to mood, we also experience physical symptoms of the weather - our hair may get frizzy during an unexpected humid day, leading us to buy something to combat it. Similarly, we may have an onset of allergies due to a sudden high pollen count. Savvy marketing can engage consumers to become proactive a few days before the condition as well as leading up to the day. A great example is the Pantene campaign, “Haircast,” where they forecasted hair conditions along with the weather and created a mobile, social, and in-store campaign around it. 

How Do We Best Reach These Shoppers?

When Duane Reade partnered with weather company Poncho to send climate-relevant coupons to consumers during allergy season, they hit the nail on the head — targeting these weather-obsessed consumers on mobile. Weather apps are the number one used apps on smartphones according to Experian Simmons. Regardless of whether consumers are shopping in-store or online, the majority of smartphone users check their phones soon after waking up and 44% have even said they would like brands to deliver deals and coupons to their mobile devices. In a statement, David Kenny, CEO of The Weather Channel, shared that they calculated about two billion forecast look-ups per day. If that doesn’t scream opportunity, to use a weather platform to push promotions to smartphones to drive shoppers to retail, then what does? 

How Important Are Analytics For Planning (And Understanding Your Consumers)? 

We use data to target customers all the time – so why not use weather data as well? It’s not always obvious how the weather may affect our businesses. In fact, a study from Weather FX highlights that in the fall, below average wind speed leads to increased ice cream consumption. Even better, did you know that weather can even affect electronics sales? The study also found that after three consecutive hot days, New Yorkers are willing to pay more for beer. Some brands like Stella Artois have paved the way with an extremely creative out-of-home digital ad in the UK that only appeared when the temperature climbed over two degrees above the average. Retailers like Walmart can also activate smart and strategic marketing by planning promotions around the most important SKUs in a specific location in response to specific weather conditions. 

Weather companies are getting in on the analytics action and working closely with brands to provide these key insights necessary for marketers to succeed with this type of strategy. By comparing sales data with historical weather data we can see behavioral trends, helping us to further understand how best to plan demand, inventory, email triggers, promotions and website personalization. 

We already pay attention to macro-trends and seasonality to make marketing decisions, like promoting a moisture-rich Dove skincare routine in the dry winters. But there is no need to wait for the seasons to change as there is ripe opportunity in key micro-moments as well and they are simply triggered by the weather.

2 comments about "Cloudy With A Chance Of Advertising: How To Cash In On The Weather".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 29, 2016 at 1:50 p.m.

    Absolutely right, Mansi. In fact, at BBDO way back in the mid-1960s and early 1970s, we routinely used known weather factors to buy media tailored to particular conditions. For example, we noted that beer consumption was higher on very warm days---no need for lots of data on that one, just common sense. So we looked up the number of days between May and September when the temperature rose above 80 degrees in each of our client's key markets and bought radio in said cities keyed to the number of hot days that were expected. If the number of such days was 20, each station got an order to run a number of our spots only on 20 days during the summer, triggered by its own morning weather reports. Result: our client's target audience got a heavy dose of radio only when it was hot and they were thirstier than usual.

  2. Mansi Jayakumar from Geometry Global replied, April 5, 2016 at 10:10 a.m.

    Very cool, Ed! I've found that the need for data (that aren't common sense) comes into play once you are able to tie specific weather patterns and fluctuations to sales, that are not obvious - for example what spikes beer sales in the winter time and how that is different in one city vs another - and more importantly how can we use specific consumer behavior effectively to push them to purchase!   

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