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Unseasonable Shopping Habits

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

The past couple of weeks have been unseasonably warm here in Denver. Instead of cold, blustery weather, we’ve been breaking records with 70° days filled with sunshine. While walking my dog on one of these beautiful days, I was suddenly struck with a strong desire to go shopping. I suddenly wanted to buy everything from fresh fruits and veggies to a new dress to new running shoes. This caused me to question– do changes in weather make people want to shop more?

The simple answer is yes. Like most human behaviors, it all relates back to behavioral economics and how social, cognitive, and emotional factors play a large role in human decision-making. The Projection Bias says that people over-predict how much their current tastes and preferences will match their future ones. So, an impromptu snowstorm could lead someone to buy a month’s supply of hearty soups because they overestimate their need for that soup beyond the current blizzard.

In fact, a recent study revealed that consumers buy more convertibles on unseasonably warm days and more four-wheel drive vehicles on random snow days. However, because Projection Bias leads people to overestimate their future needs, consumers who bought these cars on these unusual weather days were more likely to return them within a year.

Marketers are well aware of this bias and have cleverly used it to promote their products. Pantene’s “Haircasts”and McDonalds weather-based digital menu boards both utilize changing weather as a catalyst for consumers to buy certain products. As brands or retailers strategize ways to sell their products, the 10-day forecast could be a smart place to start.

Image Source: SpoiledNYC.com

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