Here comes the sun: how brands can capitalise on the weather

Written by

According to the British Retail Consortium, weather has the biggest influence on consumer behaviour, after the economy. It affects people’s emotions, which drives their purchase decisions and dictates how much they are willing to spend – and this goes much deeper than just buying an ice cream on a hot day!

Understanding the relationship between weather and spending can be extremely rewarding for brands, with the data being used to market specific products at the most profitable time.

The power of a degree

Here in London, it looks like summer has finally arrived, with the UK recently basking in temperatures more commonly seen in the likes of Greece and Italy. And as events such as Wimbledon and Glastonbury have gotten into full swing, it looks like this hot weather couldn’t have arrived at a better time.

The sun makes us want to be out and about, so bricks and mortar stores are likely to enjoy more footfall during sunny days.

And the same is true when it comes to the rain. A study from analytics firm Algonomy found that on wet or cold days there was a 12% increase in website traffic for retailers in the home & furniture, wholesale, clothing verticals compared to warm and sunny days. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the weather is also a driver of what we are likely to purchase. If temperatures reach over 18 degrees in the UK, supermarkets know that there will be a 22% increase in fizzy drinks sales, 20% increase in juice sales, and a 90% increase in garden furniture sales.

And it works both ways – in the US a drop in temperature by as little as 1 degree F can lead to increased sales in soup, porridge, and lip-care products.

So, how have brands used the weather to amplify specific products?

The best of the bunch

Nokia launched temperature-sensitive outdoor advertising to promote its sensitive touchscreens. The ads used thermo-reactive ink to tell consumers that Nokia phones can be used when wearing gloves.

The messages ‘Make love’ and ‘Send texts’ transformed into new messages when the temperature dropped, becoming ‘Make calls with gloves on’ and ‘Send texts with gloves on’. Nokia also partnered with Do The Green Thing’s ‘Glove Love’ project to give free gloves to passers-by and encourage them to put the claims to the test.

In 2013, Costa created a digital PR and OOH campaign that used thermal triggers to promote the Ice Cold Costa range on the London Underground network when temperatures rose above 22 degrees Celsius. Each location-specific ad directed commuters to the nearest Costa outlet.

Costa also partnered with The Weather Channel to promote its summer drinks range, with activity running online when the temperature hit 22 degrees. This resulted in a click-through rate of 0.15 per cent on a homepage takeover, 0.52 per cent on an iPad, 2.72 per cent on a mobile banner and 0.47 per cent for a display ad.

By mapping historical weather data with sales metrics for their apple cider beverage Cidre, Stella noticed a pattern in behaviour too. A two-degree rise above a monthly norm in temperature triggered an increase in sales. The company used digital billboards to create a cost-per-minute campaign that only activated when the temperature was right. The results were phenomenal. They saw:

  • A huge reduction in wasted impressions. Since the ad only ran under certain conditions, cost efficiencies of up to 50% were achieved (vs. a standard OOH purchase).
  • A 6% increase in year-over-year sales for the time they ran their weather responsive campaign.
  • The weather-based campaign generated over £15,000 in earned media value. Coverage secured included The Grocer, The Drum, Marketing Week, and Campaign Live.

The cherry on top of the cake

Finally, and our favourite example – although we might be biased – is our campaign for healthy ice cream company, Halo Top. In the spring of 2019, the LA-based company commissioned an ice cream hotline to launch its brand new snackable ice cream sticks—giving away more than 10,000 free samples in the UK.

Of these, 5,000 were stored in a Russell Square phone booth in London, transformed by the brand into a freezer shaped like a giant, melting ice cream—complete with a stick in the top. The product was handed out on a first come, first served basis.

So, with the warm weather set to continue (fingers crossed!), brands that use the weather to advertise their products are likely to see huge rewards. And if you liked the Halo Top campaign… don’t hesitate to get in touch.

  • Emily Drake,