Frostbite with a side of strawberries

By | September 25, 2015

Winter has returned to Sydney. I am writing this in the office, as my nails turn smurf blue and my body aches with the cold.

The previous week of sunny days seems a distant memory, as are BBQs, days at the beach and gorgeous bling sandals.

When you think about weather, it is easy to see how many of your decisions and actions are influenced by outside elements. IBM’s partnership with the weather channel sounds unusual to some but it makes sense. If you can understand and predict the local weather, you can leverage these insights to also understand and predict the behvior of your customers.

Here are some examples IBM has already discovered through partnering with our weather channel and some curious and innovative customers

1. During hurricanes in America, sales of pop tarts soar ! Pop tarts do not need to be refrigerated and can be eaten straight from the packet, so it seems they are an easy meal option to have at hand. I have checked this stat with my children’s nanny, who is from Georgia and she assured me that the only time her mum stocked up on pop tarts was during hurricane season!  In a similar example, a coffee shop found demand for croissants were significantly higher on a rainy day at the end of a long week. Weather helps predict your stock levels!

2. There is a direct correlation between shoppers buying groceries online and requesting grocery pickup during colder weather . A larger superstore in Europe uses this data and insight to improve staff planning and deployment. Weather data helps predict staff deployment year round.

3. A global telecommunications company was able to correlate a link between customer attrition and rainy days. It seems on cold, rainy days, customers are more likely to look on line for alternative offers and suppliers. This has an immediate opportunity for this company to plan and predict the marketing campaigns required, based on weather predictions, and the development of messaging to engage and delight existing and new customers. Weather data impacts customer loyalty and engagement.

4. My personal favorite. In partnership with an online retailer dedicated to selling customised shoes, we analysed, among other things, how weather impacts shoe purchases. In a future story, I will share the full details of this story, however, for now, in terms of weather, bottom line, in Australia, shoppers will design and buy shoes no matter what the weather – rain or hail, sunshine and humidity. This differs to other locations across the world where weather has a direct correlation to when people will buy online vs in store, and what they buy. Augmenting this with twitter data analysis, we were able to also find that, as shoppers were typically designing a shoe for a future event, weather on the day did not impact the style of shoe purchase, nor when they purchased. So the conclusion …… Weather data can impact purchase behavior….. except in Australia when every day is a great day to design and buy a pair of shoes!

So with that, I do believe it is time to design a pair of summer sandals, with anticipation of summery weather to come.

And let me know if you would like to know more about how you can leverage weather and twitter data in your organisation today. Look forward to a little friendly ideation – and some much warmer weather ….. !