My Sunday Tweet Storm: Bad Weather Means Bad Restaurant Reviews

I started my weekly Weather Means Business Tweet Storm series two weeks ago and as predicted it’s morphed into more of a bi-weekly-ish effort.

Even that may be overly ambitious.

Never-the-less, there’s been some really interesting weather / business impact stories and studies over the last week that I’m excited to share.

Here are some of my favorites  —

Bad weather leads to bad restaurant reviews 

Bad weather has a fundamental impact on both  what we do and how we feel. It’s a universal truth that has both economic and social impacts.

Turns out the impact of the funk brought on by rainy weather has a measurable impact on the snark (and, presumably) tip level of diners at restaurants.

You can get a copy of the full study at the link here — It’s raining complaints! How weather factors drive consumer comments and word-of-mouth — or you can watch the short video below.

Fascinating study!

The Reverse Bath Tub 

Retail sales in both the US and western Europe will be facing strong weather-driven headwinds in May as colder temperatures will be slamming the brakes on demand for all things spring.

Apparel and Lawn & Garden categories and seasonable consumables (think BBQ’s and beer) will be particularly hard hit.  This will negatively impact home centers,  mass merchants, specialty apparel and department stores — essentially all of retail.

Making this worse will be the incredibly difficult comparison to last year’s record warm weather in both the US (warmest in 124 years) and the UK (warmest on record)

It’s a case of Mother Nature playing hard ball — and below the belt.

For more on what I call “the reverse bath tub effect” read my post from last month — Did the Bomb Cyclone Blow up Spring Retail Sales?

The Sport Performance Summit Atlanta

This tweet references an interesting and very timely topic:  using weather data and analytics to optimize performance —  in sport and  business.

It’s timely in that I’m going to be speaking about this topic at The Sport Performance Summit Atlanta at Mercedes Benz Stadium next month.

I’m particularly excited to be sharing the same stage as the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the GM of the Atlanta Falcons.

Weather Data is Transforming Consumer Demand Planning

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” — Yogi Berra

For retailers and CPG companies, predicting what consumers will be needing and wanting, months into the future, is an exercise fraught with uncertainty and risk.

Complicating this is the realty that about one-third of consumer products and services (representing revenues of approximately $3 trillion in the US) have some degree of weather and climate variability.

Complicating this even further is the reality that the impact of weather on consumer behavior is increasing.

The combination of a changing climate and consumers that are more connected, more demanding and with more retail choices means that the effect of the weather (and the weather forecast!) on consumer demand is increasing.

This uncertainty is creating increased risk.

It’s also creating opportunity.

As I noted in a previous post, retailers have historically viewed weather as an uncontrollable and therefore unmanageable risk factor — what Wall Street analysts call the “weather excuse.”

That paradigm is now rapidly being turned on its head — rather than a risk, leveraging digital insights mined from weather data is creating opportunities to better serve customers, capture market share and delight shareholders.

An example of how this works is in demand planning — we know from benchmarking analysis done by colleagues at the IBM Institute of Business Value that a 1% increase in demand forecast accuracy yields $10M in revenue for every $1B in sales.

We also know, from work we’re doing with retailers in the US and Europe, that including weather forecast data in demand forecasts for seasonal product categories increases forecast accuracy 20% or more.

See: Just add Weather

When you do the math it’s clear that the value from integrating weather into demand forecasts is far beyond table stakes — in fact, combining weather information with other external variables will be literally transforming how consumer businesses are serving their customers.

And it’s happening now.

I’m looking forward to discussing this at the Climate City Expo on April 2d in Asheville next month.

CCX: Business

“Ensuring humanity’s future in a changing climate presents unique challenges and opportunities to drive innovation. CCx: Business is a cross-industry conference that convenes business executives, entrepreneurs, climate scientists, investors, and many more to explore solutions at the leading edge of climate resilience.”

If you’re coming to the event let me know. Would love to see you there.

If you’re not, here’s a short video that will give you a sneak peak of what I’ll be discussing.

Weather a Hot Topic at the National Retail Federation Big Show

Had the opportunity to chat with my friend and former colleague (and self-described weather geek), CNBC Senior Economic Analyst Steve Liesman at the National Retail Federation Big Show last week in New York.

He’d just finished interviewing former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen and Kara Swisher, Host of the Recode Decode Podcast.

The topic of the panel?

Impact at scale: Leading in prosperous yet uncertain economic times

While the discussion wasn’t directly related to weather and climate, the spirit of the title at least was relevant to the uncertainty consumer businesses face every day as it relates to the volatility in consumer demand that is created by the weather and, by proxy, the climate.

See: “Climate is just a thousand little weather’s

An alternative title could have been framed as: “Impact at scale: Leading in prosperous yet uncertain climatic times.”

The combination of a changing climate and consumers that are more connected, more demanding and with more retail choices means that the effect of the weather (and the weather forecast!) on consumer demand is increasing.

The uncertainty is creating increased risk … but also increased opportunity.

See: Just add weather

As someone who’s been at the bleeding edge of the topic of weather integration into retail systems, I was very encouraged at the NRF show to see weather data integrated across nearly all IBM’s consumer offerings — from commerce and marketing to supply chain and block chain.

Weather data is now also showing up in SAP and JDA integration’s and the topic of managing consumer weather risk is no longer a curiosity — it’s becoming, dare I say it, mainstream.

See: The Effects of Weather on Corporate Earnings are Gathering Forc

Historically retailers have viewed weather as an uncontrollable and therefore unmanageable risk factor — what Wall Street analysts call the “weather excuse.”

That paradigm is now rapidly being turned on it’s head — rather than a risk, leveraging digital insights mined from weather data is creating opportunities to better serve customers, capture market share and delight shareholders.

It’s how the best retailers and consumer packaged goods companies and quick serve restaurants are, indeed, prospering in uncertain times.

To quote Sun Tzu (because, why not?) —

“Know the enemy, know yourself; your victory will never be endangered. Know the ground, know the weather; your victory will then be total.”

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