How Does Weather Impact Purchase Behavior?

Michael Seymour |
 08/11/23 |
5 min read


Brands should closely monitor weather patterns to understand and anticipate their influence on consumer behavior. By understanding these effects, businesses can adapt their marketing strategies and inventory to cater to the needs and desires of consumers under varying weather conditions.

This summer, you will hear much about the scorching heat, even from hot weather enthusiasts who find it stifling. Additionally, summer can bring unexpected storms and rain. Weather patterns can directly impact consumer shopping behavior.

The weather-related conversation is gaining speed and becoming steadier. In the chart below, we’ve filtered the conversations to display those garnering the highest engagement. This demonstrates the extent of consumer worries regarding the weather. Notably, the Canadian Fires occupy a significant portion of the discourse.

Subsequently, the focus shifts to weather-related cancellations, setting the stage for broader discussions encompassing storms, suitable clothing choices for different weather conditions, and the ongoing heat wave we all have been encountering.

weather-related conversation

With many people opting to stay indoors firmly planted under their air conditioning vent, how will this weather impact your consumers and their purchasing habits?  In this article, we’ll explore how your brand can be prepared to pivot and cater to the weather conscience consumer as we touch on these topics:

  • Understanding how weather impacts purchases
  • Tracking summer storms and online increases
  • Predicting future behaviors

Additionally, there are these revealing stats to consider from a recent study by Adobe:

  • Rainy days accounted for most consumer behavior shifts, with wind events ranking second, while snow had a lesser impact on habits than commonly assumed.
  • In cities where snowfall is infrequent and considered a rarity, shoppers were inclined to abandon their devices and embrace the winter wonderland outside. On the other hand, areas experiencing moderate snow annually, ranging from 20 to 80 inches, observed a shift towards increased online shopping during such weather events.
  • According to Adobe’s projections, rainfall events are expected to contribute approximately $8.7 billion in consumer spending, while winds could lead to an additional expenditure of $4 billion.

Understanding How Weather Impacts Purchases

Weather significantly impacts every consumer purchase decision, ranging from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. Even seemingly unrelated choices like the type of car we drive or the house we buy can be influenced by commonplace fluctuations in weather, as indicated by an older but still-relevant study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Extreme weather conditions, such as heavy rain, snowstorms, or intense heat, can dissuade individuals from venturing out to shop, reducing foot traffic and sales for physical retail stores. As a result, inclement weather often drives a surge in online shopping as people prefer to purchase from the comfort of their homes, especially during severe weather events. This year, bad weather is projected to spur an additional $13.5 billion in US online spending, marking a 3% increase from the previous year.

Moreover, the weather has a notable influence on mood and emotions. Warm weather, for instance, can make consumers more open to financial risk, resulting in increased impulse purchases—additionally, geographic location and weather tolerance factor into how consumers shop and what they buy. A person residing in Atlanta may be less tolerant of an inch of snow, whereas someone in Chicago wouldn’t hesitate to venture out.

Recognizing the weather’s impact on shopping behavior, retailers frequently adjust their promotions and discounts to align with customer preferences during specific seasons. For instance, during colder months, there is likely to be heightened interest in cold and flu medicines or immune-boosting supplements. Weather also affects people’s activities, with sunny conditions leading to more outdoor pursuits and, consequently, increased demand for products like outdoor gear, picnic supplies, and sports equipment.

By understanding the intricate relationship between weather and consumer behavior, businesses can fine-tune their marketing strategies and inventory to better cater to the needs and desires of consumers under varying weather conditions. Let’s explore how this knowledge can be implemented and how you can prepare accordingly

Tracking Summer Storms and Online Increases

Summer is here, and she isn’t playing around. Aside from the heat, this year has proved to be one of the wettest summers for many US states. Everyone is either looking for ways to stay cool or things to do while stuck inside while it rains. And the less they have to do to find these new necessities, the better. As it turns out, by following weather patterns and consumer conversations, companies can get a glimpse into how extreme weather impacts buyer decisions.

For example, in October through December of 2022, and in January of this year, there was an outbreak of tornadoes in the deep south covering Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. Warmer temperatures and moist conditions brought on these storms. They wreaked havoc on people’s day-to-day lives and impacted the towns and cities they inhabited. Additionally, last year was one of the warmest years to date.

So, how did these events affect people’s buying habits?

Using consumer intelligence and applying the online shopping theme, we can segment our shopping conversations to see what consumers are talking about buying during those months and can even drill down from week to week.

For example, during weeks 29 and 30 of this year, the usual suspects dominate conversations, particularly food-related topics. What happened from week to week to cause such a spike and then a decrease in delivery conversation?

weather comparison by weeks

Consumers actively avoid going out in the scorching heat and are reluctant to cook, so it’s a great time to have a delivery service at your restaurants

But then the question arises: how can we foresee upcoming trends? Unlike the erratic nature of weather, the power of consumer intelligence empowers us to accurately anticipate purchasing behaviors

Predicting Future Behavior

As a marketer, leveraging social listening tools is crucial for capturing real-time insights and a deep understanding of consumer emotions, buying behaviors, and aspirations, regardless of the weather conditions. Pinpointing triggers and barriers to purchase at a given point in time enables companies to seize opportunities and make informed predictions.

triggers and barriers for purchase

As we can see in a search for conversations about online shopping above, financial concerns in many varieties impact these purchases. Many are apprehensive about overall living costs, actively seeking the most economical shopping alternatives, which is an expected reaction. But there are others sharing intel that offers opportunities.

Exploring the “effective than online shopping” “shopping experience” and “not convenient” reveals conversations about consumers’ inability to try on or touch items before purchase. What could be done about that? Well, we see Amazon’s Try Before You Buy policy as an example. Amazon allows customers to receive and try out items, like a stylish pair of jeans, for free for 7 days. If not satisfied, returns are effortless and free, courtesy of Amazon. Online shopping is no longer “dangerous for me” here.

Consumers are online telling you what they need from you to support their shopping experience during weather extremes and any other time. You just need to listen—are you? 88% of consumers share that their experience with a company holds equal importance to its products and services, so it’s time to understand what they’re asking for, specifically, and create those options.

Be sure to reach out for a demo and see how quickly your brand can capture and combine insight to form the most complete consumer picture and reach new audiences online today!

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