How the Heat Affects Consumer Behavior in Houston

With temperatures soaring and the sun blazing down, there is no escaping the Summer weather in Houston. Most Texans claim that they aren’t fazed by the scorching heat. However, business owners and marketers in the area must understand how the heat affects customers and their purchasing decisions.

The Psychology of Hot Temperatures

Psychologists and market analysts have long asserted that temperature plays a direct role in how a person acts. For example, research from PsychCentral states that higher temperatures reduce depression but raise aggression levels.

Despite this, many businesses only pay attention to the weather and consumer psychology when they are working with the elements or selling seasonal products. The truth is, nearly every business experiences some repercussion from the heat.

Here are four major considerations Houston businesses and advertising leaders should capitalizing with when the temperatures heat up.

1) Location Matters

Summer in Houston is different from anywhere else in America; while 75° in Maine might make for a great day at the beach, it’s downright chilly for a summer’s day in Houston. This means that a one-size-fits-all marketing approach is doomed to fail. As Weather Unlocked explains, how a consumer experiences temperature directly affects their shopping patterns (i.e. visiting brick and mortar stores instead of online shopping).

In Houston, where comfortable summer temperatures are regularly in the upper 90s, advertisers must learn to “speak heat,” Texas-style. Viewers will not react positively, for example, to ads using a ploy such as “escape the heat” when it’s 79°. In other words, knowing your locale’s temperature profile is essential to good marketing.

2) Don’t Underestimate Projection Bias

On a hot day, there is little better than streaming through the Houston streets in a convertible with the top down. However, car dealers rarely can sell convertibles in the hottest months. That’s because shoppers often fall prey to “projection bias.” As Psychology Today explains, “projection bias” occurs when a consumer purposely does not make a purchase because of the weather. The convertible dealer (as well as the pool seller and sunscreen vendor) will have better luck shortly before the weather turns hot, when a consumer’s projection bias has him or her anticipating the hot weather rather than experiencing it.

3) The Optimal Temperature for eCommerce

Another common misconception is that online shopping decreases in the summer as Houston shoppers take to the streets. On the contrary, as one study shows, there was an increase of  46% in consumers searching online stores when temperatures increased from 68° to 77°. This is likely due to the fact that warmer weather ups the mood and makes people feel more at ease with purchasing an item they have no physical connection with.

4) Reduce Your Discounts

Harvard Business Review claims that warm weather also increases a perceived value. Those shopping in a hot room were more likely to buy versus those in a cold room. Just like online purchasing, it is because purchasing heat is connected to emotional warmth. And in return, shoppers will put a higher value on the item. Summer blow out sales, especially with larger products such as furniture, have little impact when consumers would be mentally ready to buy regardless of a hot Houston day.

Creating a Hot Weather Strategy

Research clearly shows a direct correlation between weather and consumer behavior, especially directly related to heat and extreme temperatures. However, just as no two customers are the same, your business’s weather-based plans should be flexible and malleable. The best and most effective way to design a weather strategy is to instead research your own data.

Using historical sales reports or your own knowledge, track how extreme temperatures may have created a real impact in your shoppers behaviors. Compare a surge or downturn in sales with weather websites such as Weather Underground, where you can determine your weather triggers (or meteorological events that cause a change in consumer behavior). You may be surprised to see shifts in consumer behaviors directly related to a hot, Houston day.

Heating Up Sales

When the weather heats up, Houston business owners shouldn’t sweat. Basic consumer psychology has shown that while heat may play a direct role in purchasing decisions, it is largely regional and can have a perception bias. Furthermore, a warm day may even cause a weather trigger that can bypass clearance sales or spur online shopping. By understanding how your business may be affected by the rising mercury, you too can ride the summer shopping heatwave.