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Think BR: What a hot, dry summer means for brands

The weather has a major impact on consumer behaviour and marketers should plan accordingly. Ross Webster, The Weather Channel's managing director of sales, European markets, gives the forecast.

Ross Webster, managing director of sales, european markets, The Weather Channel

Ross Webster, managing director of sales, european markets, The Weather Channel

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The weather inextricably affects our everyday lives, from what clothes we put on in the morning, where we go in the day, our mood and crucially how we choose to spend our money.

Brits are renowned for their obsession with the elements, indeed there are 135 million conversations about the weather every day in the UK. That’s three for each and everyone one of us. Half a million of these comments are made over Twitter.

Adding all these conversations together, in a lifetime we spend on average six months talking about the weather.

The impact of the weather on the performance of brands is subsequently crucial.

Moreover Chancellor George Osborne famously blamed the 0.5% contraction of the UK economy in the last quarter of 2010 almost entirely on "the coldest December in 100 years".

At the start of the month chocolate maker Thornton’s issued a profit warning citing sunny weather over the Easter period for a slump in sales.

The same company had four months earlier blamed the snow for a disappointing performance over Christmas.

The Weather Channel has now published its long-range seasonal weather forecast for the UK and it makes interesting and useful reading for marketers and agencies alike.

The overall outlook is for a hot, dry summer due to high pressure holding over the UK and Northern Europe into July. There is a probable breakdown in July and August bringing in more unsettled weather especially for the North with potential for heavy downpours.

For the South East temperatures are likely to stay above average with some very hot days and little precipitation. By late summer the South East could experience a severe drought. You heard it here first!

This year marketing that is dependent on good weather is clearly best spent up front while conditions remain warm, dry and stable, with a changeable more uncertain July and August to follow presenting opportunities for other brands.

For brands, consideration of long-range weather forecasts provides strategic insight that helps to identify the optimum times and regions to get the most out of marketing activity.

Recent research into weather and its impact on consumer behavior has revealed just how significant these effects are.

In the summer, for every centigrade increase in temperature; sales of clothes increase by 5%; 40,000 more units of ice cream are sold each week; 2.4% more beer and soft drinks are consumed weekly; 40,000 more units of sun care products and 26% more hedge trimmers are sold each week.

Clearly weather conditions present huge commercial opportunities as well as risks for brands, as Thornton’s know only too well. Statistically we talk about the weather more than about our jobs, love lives and sport.

Yet, not enough brands and marketers seem to take this essential element into account when planning the marketing strategy and projecting the profitability and performance of products in the market.

Within the bigger picture is the need for flexibility delivered by real-time planning, the ability to implement quick and effective marketing campaigns according to appropriate brand triggers, such as pollen count and UV levels.

As we all know, weather is changeable and as such brands too need to hold something back to respond to and benefit from short term changes.

With this insight, brands should react accordingly to enjoy a sunny outlook and not get burnt. 

Ross Webster,  managing director of sales, european markets, The Weather Channel

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