Seasonality and buying behavior

Holidays like Christmas and Eastern or special days like Black Friday pretty obviously have an influence on our buying behavior, but what about the weather and seasonality? Do we buy more, only because spring is coming close or it depends on how warm it gets, our mood or where we live?

According to a study conducted by the British Retail Consortium[1], the weather has the biggest influence on consumer behavior after the economy. Its effect on purchase decision reaches well beyond the obvious examples of splurging on ice cream on hot days.

On the most basic level, weather effects which channel consumers use to make purchases. It doesn’t come as a surprise, that cold weather keeps people at home, which means more business for online retailers. Conversely, on warm and sunny days, brick-and-mortar stores do more sales.

Studies[2] show that temperature, humidity, air pressure, snowfall, and, especially sunlight can have a huge impact on a consumer’s mood –  exposure to sunlight dramatically increased levels of consumption as well as the amount spent per item. The research also shows that consumers are prone to pay 37% more for green tea and 56% more for gym membership after being exposed to sunlight. Many retailers use this fact and mimic bright daylight in their stores with halogen lighting.

Seasonality influences product demand as well. This is especially true for the food and drinks, pharmaceutical, and fashion industries, but also purchase decisions on more highly valued goods are affected. A US study[3] found out an increase in the sales of 4×4 vehicles in winter and convertibles in the summer months.

Understanding the relationship between weather and consumer purchase decision can pay huge dividends for brands. By using these insights, marketers can schedule campaigns at the most profitable time to deliver much more targeted and impactful promotions.

[1] Danila, Liliana, and Dyson, Elizabeth and Lee, Malcolm and Lund, Rachel, Weather to

shop? A statistical investigation into how temperature affects UK retail sales. A joint study by the BRC

and Met Office

[2] Murray, Kyle B. and Di Muro, Fabrizio and Finn, Adam and Popkowski Leszczyc, Peter T. L., The Effect of Weather on Consumer Spending (July 6, 2010). Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Forthcoming

[3] Meghan R. Busse, Meghan R., Pope, Devin G., Pope, Jaren C., Risso, Jorge Silva, The Psychological Effect of Weather On Car Purchases. The Quarterly Journal of Economics (2014), 1–44.

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