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Summer is the perfect time to tap into your location data
Mariana Fletcher
Mariana Fletcher
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As the weather gets warmer, consumer habits change. With the cold, gray winter behind us, people are beginning to step outside to enjoy the sunny days. While some go to the park or the beach, others may opt for an air-conditioned museum or mall – and this change in behavior means new opportunities for brands. Recent research from 17 countries revealed that 28 percent of consumers plan to spend more this summer than they did last year, so it’s imperative that marketers adapt their strategies accordingly.

In our latest study, we looked at leisure trends in Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago and San Francisco, and found that, in general, people left the house more frequently as temperatures elevated. In every location – beaches, amusement parks, malls, parks and museums – we observed an overall increase of 82 percent increase in traffic in spring versus winter and feel confident that these trends will continue through summer. This seasonal behavior means retailers should shift their strategies to appeal to these on-the-go, sun-loving consumers. But like all consumers today, they expect a customized approach, and that means understanding the nuances of how people behave when the heat hits.

Beaches and Amusement Parks win on the warmest days

With footfall increases of 135 and 119 percent respectively, amusement parks and beaches see the biggest bumps as the weather improves – especially on weekends. (Surprisingly, amusement parks around the cities included in our study were more popular than beaches, but that may change as temperatures rise.)

With more people gathered in a concentrated area, brands should consider novel ways of reaching consumers en masse. While sponsorships have been a popular strategy historically, mobile allows marketers to think out of the box and explore new ways to capture consumer imagination. Why not geofence popular shore points or theme parks and host a spontaneous pop-up event? It certainly could be fun to invite beachgoers to share an experience with the folks under the next umbrella – especially if the entire beach received the message at the same time. Alternately, offering sun worshippers or park-goers a special ice cream treat or frozen beverage on their way home could prove to be an offer impossible to pass up. Campaign ideas like these could have an immense positive effect on brand awareness, perception, opinion – and even sales.

It’s important to recognize that not all beaches are created equal. Our data shows that New Yorkers are more than happy to head to the beach in rainy weather. Boston is another story – they’re much more likely to take cooler weather as a cue to go to a museum. If you want to reach consumers where they are, a one-size-fits-all approach is likely to lead you astray.

Rainy or Very Hot? Museums and malls provide shelter and opportunity

Museums tend to be popular year-round with locals and tourists alike, especially during the week. But while it’s easy to see how marketers can target shoppers in malls, engaging museum visitors may take more creativity as these are not commercial locations. There are few sponsorship or branding opportunities in these institutions, so targeting areas at or around museums is likely the most effective way to identify and reach these consumers who may be considering which restaurant to visit for lunch or where to spend the rest of the day shopping. Also consider adding an OOH element when targeting around museums, whether it’s a wrapped car or truck outside or a nearby visible billboard.

The hotspots for hot weather

Blis ran an analysis of several most-visited locations in different cities, and identified those that are most attractive to advertisers, based on bid-to-user ratio.

  • Faneuil Hall, Boston – The iconic marketplace tops the list, as the Beantown location provides a receptive target audience for brands and retailers.
  • Rockaway Beach, NYC – New York’s beloved beach, made famous by the Ramones, is second on the list. It may be that NYC’s high population and limited beach options make this such a good place to advertise.
  • City Center, Washington DC – Attractions like the Mall, the Jefferson Memorial and the White House make the nation’s capital a good location to reach consumers. It’s worth noting, however, that the bid-to-user ratio is not even 60% that of Rockaway Beach.
  • Magnificent Mile, Chicago – Residents of the windy city are indifferent to the weather and on May 25th, the hottest day of the month, the Navy Pier attracted twice as many people as the beach.
  • Golden Gate Park, San Francisco – It’s no secret that San Francisco is blessed with great weather year-around. Perhaps as a result, we see the city’s population head outdoors every weekend to spots like Golden Gate Park. But the location ranked last on the list of bid-to-user ratios.
Summertime takeaways

Amid all this variety, there are certain takeaways that are near-universal for marketers as they gear up for summertime. These include:

  • Shift budget to mobile/OOH: As people get out more, opportunities to reach them away from their TV and desktop increase. Spend more of your ad dollars on technology and media that will engage them where they are.
  • Adjust creative messaging to respond to the social aspect of spring/summer. Advertise your brand and products in sunny scenes, outdoors, in leisure environments, where consumers are likely to be in the mood to take it on board.
  • Focus efforts on driving in-store. Despite everything you hear about retail’s demise, people do still love shopping at physical locations. This is all the more true in the summer months when people are out and about. Use this to your advantage and reach people on the go and create in-store offers they can’t refuse.

Check out our latest infographic to understand how the weather is impacting shopping patterns in your neck of the woods. Seeing the behavioral trends across cities and destinations should help you plan for the rest of the summer – and give you the competitive edge in the seasons to come.

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Mariana Fletcher

Mariana Fletcher

Mariana has 10+ years of experience in consumer and strategic insights. She heads the Blis US marketing research / consumer and business insights department for national brands.