Wherever you go you take the weather with you

Rain, rain go away.

 

The last couple of weeks of July felt like a very British summer, especially Friday 24th when an Ark would have been appropriate as a way of navigating Soho. Adlanders could have boarded two by two!

 

The unseasonable, or perhaps merely typically unpredictable, weather reminded of a story that I was told by the CEO of a creative agency about a pitch for new business that meant that she agreed to make an ad for a retailer purely on payment by results. For every item the brand sold over and above the sales of the previous year’s equivalent product the agency would take a share of sales.  To quote her: “The advert was for winter coats… And it was the warmest autumn since records began.  Not only didn’t we get any extra sales, we ended up practically owing them money”.  They say “Time is money”.  Well so is the weather.

 

The new “Weathernomics” report from The Weather Channel describes the effect that British weather has on retail sales with great precision. Of course interest in and discussion of the weather remains a defining characteristic of the British.  There’s clearly a lot less to talk about in Florida in June or Helsinki in January.  Our weather is less predictable and therefore can lead to a swing in sales for a brand that can be hard to cater for, or to explain to shareholders.  Movies can be made or broken by a rainy versus sunny bank holiday opening weekend.

 

60% shoppers change their shopping behaviour because it’s raining or hot.  A third don’t go to the shops in the rain; just 1 in 8 claim to shop more but switch to a shopping centre instead. Of course more rain means more shopping online and sophisticated UX designed online retailers have sites designed to leverage the weather.

 

The UK must be one of the most difficult territories to plan for the weather accurately.  With global clients based outside the UK it’s just another stress point for a weather reliant brand’s marketing team.  The weather is getting less predictable and more extreme according to many reports.  Yet it’s not only extreme weather that makes a difference: this report says that a week of sleet can affect sales more than a day or two of snow that brings Britain to a standstill.

 

In an ideal world you would keep stock of and arrange promotions for products that fitted the weather and turn on promotions and advertising regionally to suit the best prospects for sales:  BBQ equipment or raincoats.  The “Weathernomics” report highlights that weather can effect consumer purchase in other ways too, for instance timing: mild autumns mean delaying buying that winter coat; early spring precipitates the trip to the garden centre.

 

The solution to all this lies in more Agile ways of working, contingency plans, Real Time Course Correction with immediate media, copy and regional flexibility. It is a lot simpler to arrange copy substitution now online or via Sky AdSmart than it used to be and all kinds of brands and retailers will benefit from this flexibility.

 

Meanwhile I’m off to a week at the English seaside so expect rain this August.

 

 

 

 

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