Weather and search trends: A marketers best friend

Nicole Tuffin, 1 Aug 2018

As we all know, aside from general seasonality, the weather is largely unpredictable. Weather can affect us in many ways by causing us to change our plans, influencing our mood and, interestingly, changing our behaviour as consumers. This change is particularly noticeable when looking at fluctuations in search demand.

What is the value in comparing weather with search data?

When comparing weather trends and search data, the effect unforeseen weather can have on search demands is particularly evident. Due to the unpredictable nature of weather, it is considered one of many external factors which can affect search trend demand, meaning it can have a significant effect on companies’ performance, sales and revenue.  

Why is this important to businesses?

Search data is important across many departments within a business including the trading, content, PR and digital teams. Periods of unexpected high or low temperatures, especially when compared with the previous year, require agile strategies in order to capture opportunities or manage expectations.

For example, a store planning team using digital screens in their store could see greater success from practising reactive strategies. If they prepared appropriate advertising for all weather possibilities then, when unexpected weather hits, they would be able to respond considerably quicker and stand to gain by rapidly adapting to their customers needs.

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Template landing pages could also provide great benefit for businesses. If digital teams ensured they had signed-off landing page templates prepared, this would enable them to respond efficiently to demand influx during quick turn around weather promotions, demonstrating a highly agile reactive strategy.

What effects can weather have on search trends?

Using our Market Intelligence platform, we looked at ‘Garden’ search data over the past three years, it’s clear that search demand across all categories, reaches its peak in May. Additionally, demand has noticeably surpassed that seen in previous years.

Mirroring this, weather data over the past three years has revealed growing temperatures in May, with 2018 displaying a 2.3 degree positive temperature anomaly; 0.5 degrees greater than the 2017 average.

Combining both data sources can reveal big opportunities for companies to capitalise on. Whether it’s causation or correlation, seeing weather insight alongside search trend data enables businesses to build reactive and agile processes in preparation for surplus or shortfall in demand.

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How can companies prepare themselves for unforeseen weather?

Weather insight matched with search data is not just a marketers weapon – enabling them to prepare for the unexpected – it’s also their shield, in that it helps them to manage expectations and contextualise performance to other stakeholders across the business.

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If a company were to release a new product, for example a fan (see above), in a period of significantly higher temperatures than expected, this product may appear an overwhelming success, prompting companies to expect similar success with future products.

We refer to this as a ‘Double success’. However, in this case, it’s important to analyse search demand in combination with weather, as this provides more context to the company’s success. If weather is not on their side next time, the digital team would benefit from having weather insight to manage expectations of senior management and stakeholders in the business.

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On the other hand, unexpected weather may also cause companies to experience a ‘Double shortfall’. In the chart above, growth has been seen year on year, and expectations in a company experiencing this may be that this will continue to increase.

However, an unforeseen warm November 2017 threw a spanner in the works, reducing consumer demand for ‘Mens jackets and coats’. This resulted in a shortfall from the previous year’s demand, shortfall from growth expectation and probably a very unhappy boss, as traffic and revenues plummet.

This is another prime example of the value of combining search and weather datasets. Adding in the context of unexpected temperature anomalies goes some way to explaining why these shortfalls occured.

Weather and search data: Your shield and weapon as a marketer

Combining weather and search data can be incredibly useful for companies when planning and reflecting on their marketing strategies. It can help companies to predict and develop plans to achieve greater traffic, revenues and success, as well as managing both positive and negative expectations by providing some context to consumerist behaviour.

Altogether, it can provide great insight to inform the strategic preparations of stakeholders at all levels across the business.

For more insights on the value of search data and how this can benefit your business, get in touch and Book your Demo.

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