By Eric Danetz, global chief revenue officer, AccuWeather
The rain starts coming down in sheets, or the air reaches 100 degrees in the shade, and suddenly your customers don’t want to leave their homes. It’s a normal reaction because weather affects buying behavior. In fact, it directly affects sales for all products and services.
Consider the restaurant industry, and particularly dining out. It probably comes as no surprise that fewer people go out to eat in rainy weather or when temperatures hit extreme levels. But did you know that fluctuations in precipitation and temperature significantly impact foot traffic to dining establishments as well? With a detailed understanding of the specific impacts weather will have, restaurants can more easily predict consumers’ future habits, and adjust marketing messages to create more targeted, personalized and effective ads.
To quantify how the weather impacts consumer behavior specifically related to dining out, AccuWeather and Foursquare recently collaborated on a study that combined historical weather data from the companies'proprietary foot traffic panel of 13 million always-on U.S. users. The results — focused specifically on dining patterns in New York City, Atlanta and Chicago — provide restaurant marketers with actionable insights they can leverage in weather-triggered marketing campaigns that have the potential to yield significantly higher engagement and conversions.
Here are some key insights from the report.
The amount of precipitation—and the city—matter
It’s not uncommon for rain to keep patrons away, but variations by city should be considered. According to the report, while restaurants overall saw a 2% decrease in foot traffic with light rain (less than 0.5") on average, restaurants in New York City actually experienced a 2%increase! When heavy rainfall (more than 0.5") was forecast, however, restaurants on average saw a decrease in foot traffic of 10%, but New York City establishments saw a bigger decrease of 13 percent.
Heat waves bring cravings
On average, restaurants experience a decrease in foot traffic on unusually hot days (over 77.9 degrees in New York City and Chicago or over 81.6 degrees in Atlanta). However, restaurants with specific cuisines actually experienced an increase in traffic on warmer days. For example, BBQ and seafood restaurants saw increases in foot traffic of 10.1 percent and 6.2 percent respectively. Not surprisingly, ice cream shops also saw a significant increase—9.6 percent—on unusually hot days as well.
Knowing how patrons in certain cities will react to fluctuations in weather is invaluable information for marketers. By incorporating this information into dynamic and data-driven campaigns, restaurant marketers have the ability to create geo-targeted offers and advertisements that pinpoint potential patrons at the precise time they are deciding whether to eat in or dine out.
Today, with insights like these, weather can no longer be used as an excuse for not meeting marketing or sales goals. Instead, it has become a powerful tool that sophisticated marketers use to generate real results, and significant bottom-line impacts.
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