While we’ve known for some time that the seasons can affect our moods, and are just beginning to understand the ways that the seasons actually affect neurological function, that doesn’t necessarily translate into a full appreciation of the need for a seasonal marketing strategy. You’re sure to understand and utilize the seasonal marketing basics, of course — some studies show that warmth leads to more purchases (46% more likely to shop at 77℉ than at 68℉) while summer activities can lead to lowered sales (by roughly 30% according to some). In today’s article, we’re going to discuss why you need to understand consumer behavior in the summer.
The classic concept of summer is hot weather, sunscreen, and bathing suits for fun on the beach. It’s temptingly easy to assume that the seasons are the same everywhere, but the truth is, it varies regionally in a lot of meaningful ways. Consider this: 70℉ in April is considered warm in Minnesota and chilly in Florida or Texas. Similarly, 79℉ in June in Maine means it’s time to hit the beach, but in Houston that actually feels a bit cold. To take this a step further, the individual weather during the season will be different as well. While the stereotypical idea of spring involves rain, for Arizona, monsoon season hits in the summer. While hurricanes hit the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coastlines in the late summer, tornadoes tend to hit Tornado Alley in late spring.
Similarly, the landscape isn’t the same across the country either. Head to the beach in a South Carolina summer, and you’ll find the water relatively warmed by the Gulf Stream. Hit the waves in Southern California, though, and the Pacific stays cold. Landlocked states find their beaches at the lake, and the waterfront could mean a river, so summertime might mean heading into the woods or the mountains to camp. Spending your summer vacation in Colorado might involve white water rafting, while summering near the Great Lakes might mean spending your days boating, not sunbathing. As well as, different regions also carry different allergens that peak at different times of the year.
Impacts on Your Business
Consumers in different regions are going to have different needs in spring and summer, and to earn their business and their loyalty, you need to speak to those needs specifically. Trying to appeal to generic seasonal needs, to be all things to all people, is only going to undercut your ability to deliver quality and value. Instead you should be focusing on understanding what your customers need and what it is they want to be doing and shopping for.
You should be personalizing your marketing. Integrating tactics that take advantage of location-based marketing or situational and behavior-based marketing is a good way to meet customers where they are in the moment. Otherwise, you could end up trying to offer them what they want when they don’t want to buy it, or don’t need it. You need to do market research to understand the risks of projection bias, i.e., trying to sell shoppers items they’re interested in when they would be using it rather than when they want to actually purchase it. A key example is back to school promotions in the summer; traditionally you may think the focus for these sales would be August, however, 65% of consumers are already looking for back to school products in mid-July. If you wait until August, you’ll probably have already missed prime customers.
References of What to Expect in Spring and Summer
The examples we offer here are only general so always be sure to reference your own data about the way your customers behave.
- Barilla pasta — Pasta is, admittedly, a staple of the U.S. diet year round; that makes the fact that they segment by season a great example. In Spring, a time segment they’ve called “Post Holiday Wellness,” Barilla has noted that consumers focus on fitness and healthy habits. To meet those expectations, it promotes its “better for you” lines, such as whole grain pasta. Meanwhile, in summer, consumers are participating in more leisurely and outdoor activities, so Barilla emphasizes the pastas used in pasta salads, especially its tri-colored noodles.
- Gifting — The winter holidays usually get most of the attention when it comes to gift giving, but spring and summer holidays and events are important too. The key, here, is to note what is celebrated by your customers and when. Spring is home to the parental holidays (Mother’s Day and Father’s Day), but it may also be when people are beginning to shop for major early-summer events, such as graduations and weddings. Summer’s focus is usually national holidays (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day) and all the grilling, swimming, and fireworks that accompany them.
- Skincare — The consumer focus in spring tends to be preparing your body to be “beach ready” (even if there’s no beach involved), and beyond the fitness aspect, people want ageless, clear, smooth, blemish free skin that they’re comfortable showing off, and they’re willing to buy the products to achieve that. Once the weather really heats up, preparation switches to preservation, with an emphasis on protecting skin from harmful UV levels and increased exposure to the sun.
- Allergy care — As just one example of shifting allergy needs, in the Houston area, grass pollens dominate spring, while ragweed typically flourishes starting in late summer. Depending on the weather fronts, fungal (i.e., mold) allergies become high as soon as humidity sets in alongside warmth; in fact, the fungal allergens are higher in Houston than most of the rest of the country. Thus, the need for allergy medications will ebb and flow as the pollen counts rise and fall within their growth cycles; presume allergies only hit in early to mid-spring at your own risk.
Now that you’ve taken a better look at summer seasonal marketing concerns, it’s time to consider your seasonal marketing strategy. Ensure that you take consumer behavior in the summer into account in a meaningful way so that you don’t miss any valuable opportunities.