4 Jul 2014
Weather, Like Facebook, Can Control Emotions – A Marketers Dream?
Recently Facebook has been criticized after publishing research results relating to an ‘experiment’ they had conducted. It just so happened the subjects of the study were 680,000 Facebook users who were ‘recruited’ without knowledge or consent. According to the report on the study: "The experiment manipulated the extent to which people were exposed to emotional expressions in their News Feed". The results put forward that users exposed to negative stories were more likely to write a negative post themselves, and vice versa. In other words, people’s emotional state could be controlled and manipulated by selectively filtering the contents of their feed – research which was perhaps incentivised by the marketing opportunities it could create within Facebook’s own advertising platform.
Now, here is not the place to judge whether Facebook were acting responsibly in their research approach. Suffice to say many considered they pushed hard against the boundaries of acceptable ethical protocols in research. We can however draw a comparison between news and weather, and how they both affect mood. Unlike Facebook and their news experiment, we don’t have the means to influence the weather, but we do have the ability to understand how the weather influences us – something that marketers and branding experts have begun to use to the same ends as Facebook did in their experiment.
It’s been accepted for some time that the weather triggers changes in people’s mood. Just think Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). We can look forward to events only to find the weather means cancellations, or be pleasantly surprised by some unexpected fine weather. It can lift our spirits high, or dump us down into the blues. For most of us the weather influences the clothes we wear, the places we go, the things we do, what we eat, and the things we buy.
With such an ability to change mood and affect our actions the weather becomes a marketers ‘dream’. Essentially it can be used to help predict consumer behaviour. If we understand the weather a consumer is experiencing we can better predict their readiness to act on a marketing message/advert. Put simply, it’s better to promote a snow shovel when it’s been snowing, and air conditioners when it’s hot. Certain weather conditions will prime consumers towards certain purchasing behaviours. This is true of almost all products and services. It might not be as exciting as changing the weather itself, but it’s a powerful tool for marketing. In the same way that Facebook were using news to affect people’s feelings, marketers can use weather as a way to chime with a consumer’s mindframe, and even to subtly alter it.
Many marketers are just beginning to wake up (after their dream!) to the opportunities weather can bring to campaigns. It can significantly increase advertising return on investment. By segmenting audiences by their local weather, savvy marketers can target their consumers more precisely, in effect hyper-targeting. Reaching consumers with the right promotional message at the precise time they are most likely to be influenced and act positively - now that really is mood enhancing news!
And as for Facebook, well it’s perhaps a good thing we humans can’t (yet) manipulate the weather in any meaningful way, because if we could, it’s a pretty sure bet Facebook... well… would they?
To find out more about Weather-based Marketing, download the White Paper ‘How to Increase Advertising ROI Using Weather'.