Weather to shop – that is the question

In the past, most businesses have ignored external market factors, sometimes voluntarily and, other times, involuntarily. If there’s one thing we know here at CaptainDash, it’s that the availability of external data can provide great insight into a business. In fact, external factors typically influence up to 45% of consumer purchase decisions, according to an OECD study. Of particular interest to us is the effect of weather and climate on consumer behavior, thanks to the abundance of data that can be tracked against business operations to show significant cause and effect.

We now have the power to track weather like never before, which makes it easier to determine the real effects that certain weather patterns have on consumers’ moods and subsequent purchasing behavior. Seasonal purchases reflect general climate change and can sometimes be regionally specific. For example, people buy warm coats and hot chocolate more often during autumn and winter, while they typically opt for bathing suits and ice cream during the summer months. It is also quite obvious that major weather events, such as hurricanes, snow storms, and heat waves, can also have significant effects on consumer attitudes.

What you may not realize, however, is that exposure to sunlight and warmer temperatures increases the likelihood that consumers will choose to make purchases in general. In a 2010 study at the University of Alberta and the University of Winnipeg, researchers discovered that people who are exposed to sunlight, both real and artificial, are willing to pay significantly more for a wide range of products, including orange juice, gym memberships, and airline tickets. At the same time, bad weather, including rain, clouds, and chill, enhances the effects of negative marketing messages. For example, potential consumers are more likely to respond positively to an advertisement encouraging them to buy car insurance on days with unfavorable weather This all seems very logical, but it’s easy to put this information off to the side when you’re busy managing a business. It can also be difficult to react to the effect that weather has if you don’t have a way to measure it.

Why not have an in-store sale during a week that is predicted to be sunny and warm as opposed to making a random choice? You might just see your sales volume climb more than you expected. What if the predicted weather is supposed to be chilly and damp over the next two weeks in May? Hold off on the launch of a major air-conditioning campaign. These examples demonstrate concepts that hold true for businesses across many different types of markets.

Do you think that weather can have a very real and significant effect on consumer behavior? If so, do you recognize how your purchasing habits change with the weather? How will your business react to changes in operations due to changes in weather?

In upcoming blog posts, we will discuss some of the other external factors we have also included in the CaptainDash application. Also, we love when our clients ask for specific data because we love expanding and enriching our data library. After all, there is always the opportunity to include more external data – the amount of data is rapidly increasing by the day and we’d like to make as much of it available to CaptainDash users as possible. So feel free to voice your ideas – everyone can have a hand in the Big Data revolution!

The Captain

Datawar: Power to marketing directors

It has been a long long time since we last posted about our product development. A lot of people have been questioning us to know where we stand as a company.

Actually it is pretty good to see that things have been moving steadily the past two quarters. First we have considerably increased our team size. From 3 people at the beginning of the year, we are now almost twenty. It is fair to say that most of these people are product dev. team, as we have a huge product challenge to deal with. As you may know, what we intend to do is a strange alchemy of big data, interactive design and data-visualization. Technically speaking, it means HTML 5, Hadoop backed-end solution plus a touch of SQL Server in between. In conceptual terms, BigData, OpenData, Datavisualization + friendliness are our key Mantras (we recitate that every morning). No need to say that that this gathering of concepts seems just wired to anyone who has some experience in the Business Intelligence field.

But the most important is probably somewhere else : we have been really stunned to see that what we have been saying since almost two years is now a reality. DataSynchronisation is about to become hype (it doesn’t come in the Wired hype index yet though) as most companies are starting to realize that they have lost ground with their data ; therefore, the notion of BigData is becoming increasingly a key topic for them.

In all of the conferences that we attended on the topic, we have seen that most companies admit that their have huge difficulties to manage their data. Privately they confesse that the most common request (compare the price on two items, one from the company another from a competitor) doesn’t get answered easily from their ERP or IT systems. Handling data -visualizing it- in itself is an issue, but handling bigdata has become a simple nightmare, especially for big corporation as it is commonly admitted that a large fortune 500 company generally creates several Petabytes of data every… day.

Reversely, being able to use these data is the way to give back to innovation and marketing the control of companies. If you could visualise exactly what is at stake, you would most certainly take the right decision ; but until marketing directors are able to do it, their are condemned to rely on some sort of « magic thinking management » which is more of a mystic than a rational decision process. This explain probably why Marketing Director is the position with the highest turnover of all types ; in average, this type of position is renewed every…. 18 Months.

This is why we truly believe in our approach: making things simple in a complexe data world. Our product is just about to be released and people will be able to experience in no time whether it is pure fluff or real breakthrough. On that side, we are more inclined to believe in the 2nd affirmation…