Whether we realise it or not, every day we see examples of how the weather influences buying behaviour. However, newest research indicates that retailers and marketers can manipulate consumer behaviour and drive purchase intent by using temperature as their ally.
TEMPERATURE AND ADVERTISING
Studies have demonstrated that when a person feels warm, this will activate memories which are associated with warmth, such as comfort and trust. What this means for marketers and retailers is that consumers are more likely to trust the opinion of others (read: the marketing message) and to conform to it. An advert or product recommendation is likely to have a greater influence if it is warm inside the store, or if it is viewed by a consumer on a warm day. In fact a study by Xun Huang, found the optimum temperature for this is between 75-77 °F, or 24-25 °C.
TEMPERATURE AND PURCHASE INTENT
This feeling of closeness, trust, and a desire to conform, induced by warm temperatures – does not only apply to interpersonal connections. Vitally, it also applies to how consumers relate to products. In a 2013 study by Yonat Zwebner, participants were asked to hold either warm or cold therapeutic pads. They were then instructed to value the price of a selection of consumer goods such as watches, batteries, and snacks. Those feeling warm were prepared to pay significantly more for goods than the group exposed to the cold.
Similarly, another experiment found that 74% of participants were willing to exchange money for a product after exposure to heat. In contrast, only 47% of subjects exposed to cold wanted the product, with the majority opting to keep the money. There is now no doubt that warm weather can trigger purchase intent, and that the cold is liable to make us more frugal.
TEMPERATURE, ECOMMERCE, AND ONLINE SALES
Zwebner also analysed how ambient temperature affected online sales. He tracked metrics from an online price-comparison shopping portal, which featured a ‘purchase’ button, and charted the click-through data against historical average daily temperatures. Millions of clicks for 8 product categories were analysed over a 2 year period. Once again a correlation was found between temperature and purchase intent – however, this positive correlation had an optimal point of around 30-35% C, after which purchase intent begins to plateau – meaning that consumers are most likely to purchase when they are feeling warm, but not uncomfortably hot.
For marketers this data is priceless knowledge. The above mentioned experiments indicate that targeted advertising can be effectively used in areas where the temperature is at an optimum level to heighten the impact of the marketing message and increase purchase intent.
Likewise, savvy retailers no longer have to rely on annual seasonal changes to sell the last desktop fan that has graced the store’s shelves since the last summer season. By controlling the store’s internal environment, and combining this with intelligent advertising and salesmanship, retailers have the ability to exert greater influence over consumers’ spending decisions and to elevate sales.