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The link between weather and sales has long been obvious: Stores in cold climates stock snow shovels during winter months, then give space over to suntan lotion during the summer. But with a wealth of detailed, specific data gathered by Weather Co., the new, expanded iteration of the Weather Channel, retailers can specify their assortments and communications even more precisely.

HurricaneConsider hair for example. As anyone with a little curl in their hair knows, weather is a primary determinant of whether the consumer will have a good or a bad hair day. Therefore, many people check the Weather Channel each morning, to learn about the levels of heat and humidity in their area. The information helps them determine if they should leave their waves long or try to contain the frizz by sweeping the hair up into a ponytail or under a hat.

When the Weather Channel recognized this widespread usage, it also realized that it had a powerful tool it could market and sell to advertisers, marketers, and retailers. For example, it tells Pantene that a consumer who checks the weather on her smartphone and finds predictions of high humidity should receive an advertisement for smoothing shampoo. On another day, when humidity levels are low, an advertisement for a volumizing spray is more appropriate.

The applications already in place are vast and varied. The craft goods retailer Michaels learned that it needed to advertise its assortment in any location for which the forecast for three days later was for rain, because on rainy days, customers like to do projects indoors. To be ready for rainy days, parents and babysitters need to stock up on craft supplies, so Michaels should be ready and waiting to remind them.

In addition, the data provided by Weather Co. take the time of year into account. If consumers experience a sunny, 75-degree day in October, it puts them in a great mood. The same type of day in mid-July is less compelling, because it seems more expected. Advertisers of hedonic, “pick-me-up” products similarly have learned that the best time to advertise might be in the midst of a long spell of cold, dreary weather, when consumers need something to get them out of their rain-induced funk.

Weather Co.’s ability to provide such fine-grained information is based a several elements. First, it has more than 75 years’ worth of data about all aspects of the weather, all around the world. Thus, it can discern trends and predictions about what the weather is likely to do. Second, in its transformation—from a provider of weather forecasts to a full-service market analyst—Weather Co. has invested heavily in cutting-edge data analysis tools and proprietary algorithms. Thus, the information it provides to advertisers is not only highly valuable and specific but also unavailable anywhere else.

Source: Katherine Rosman, “Weather Channel Now Also Forecasts What You’ll Buy,” The Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2013

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