How weather and other factors influence shopping habits

So much in the consumer world is dictated by the weather. Retailers moan if there is no snow leading up to Christmas. The same happens on the month up to the start of the summer holiday season. Consumers are slow to get into the holiday spirit when the weather does not co-operate. Cold, rainy and miserable days generally result in more online sales for obvious reasons and so far, weather influences sales to a small degree. This margin of influence is likely to change soon thanks to the new technologies allowing the display of location-targeted ads based on weather conditions.

What factors can influence consumers’ shopping behaviour? The main one is culture. While it is important for marketers targeting a new country to absorb the local culture and customs, there are some factors which influence consumer buying habits to a great extent regardless of their origin.

Personal factors clearly have a strong influence on decisions and buying behaviour. For instance, the age and lifestyle are some of the most influential characteristics of each consumer. One does not consume the same products or services at 30 or 75 years. His lifestyle, hobbies and activities evolve during his/her lifestyle and his/her consumer habits do so with them. The factors influencing the buying decision process may also change. For instance, the “social value” of a brand is usually more important for a consumer at 28 than at 68 years. Therefore, for brands and retailers it is mandatory to identify and measure these “personas” which represent their target client in order to adapt.

Social media trends as an influencing shopping factor. Among the factors influencing consumer behaviour, social media is becoming the focus of brands to promote and influence people’s shopping habits. Social media trends affects people’s shopping habits and it can cause a product or service to sell out really quickly… or completely the opposite. Particularly in the case of women’s garments, social media and blogs are becoming one of the main channels influencing clothing purchases. Many women go online to look for trends, reviews and advice before making a purchase (either online or offline). When resorting to social media as a “personal shopper” most women go on Facebook and Pinterest. Therefore, retailers have already started to look to this group of women as trend-establishers that can sway shopping habits.

The weather forecast needs to play a main role within a marketing strategy. The weather has a great effect on the retail sale, particularly since the proliferation of online shopping. It even influences offline shopping since the weather could be of such a nature that it may be one of the main reasons for going into a store. Other than bad weather making us stay at home browsing e-commerce and online retail sites while boosting online sales, some types of products or services may be more desirable during a period in which certain types of weather prevail. Snow-shoes or woollen hats will not be bought during the summer in the same way as just a few lucky ones going into winter beach-destinations will be searching for swimming costumes during the winter. It is easy for a brand to anticipate when the summer or winter season will start. Despite last years’ unsettled weather, seasonal campaigns start at the same time every year. However, the difficult task for sellers and marketers is to make the weather forecast main part of a sales or marketing strategy. Of course, that would be nearly impossible to achieve with traditional methods, but thanks to technological developments it is nowadays possible for business to advertise their products based on the weather on any given day. As we have just seen, many factors and characteristics influence the consumer in his/her shopping decision making process, the brands s/he buys or the retailers s/he visits and a purchase decision is the result of each and every one of these factors. By identifying and understanding the factors that influence their customers, brands have the opportunity to develop a strategy, a marketing message. They can now create advertising campaigns more efficient and more in line with the needs and ways of thinking of their target consumers. This means a real asset to better meet the needs of the customers and increase sales.

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