Friday, February 24

Winter Brands

I grew up in Upstate New York, the real Upstate where the Winters are long and cold and snowy.  We used to go skiing at least twice a week, sometimes more.  And although we longed for Spring, I have to admit that I grew up liking the Winter.

So when we have a Winter like this one, there certainly is a part of me that is happy to leave my boots, gloves, and hats at home but there is another part of me that really misses the snow.  One of my New Year's Resolutions was to start skiing again, but that has not materialized.

To tell you the truth, I hadn't really thought about Winter's effect on brands until I read this article in AdAge this week.  I've worked in the cough/cold/flu category for years, so I am totally familiar with how weather plays into sales of those remedies, and this has been a tough year on sales.  Good for families, tough for brand managers.  I'll take it.  Having worked on Campbell's Soup for a bit, I do know what the forecast of an impending blizzard can do for canned soup sales!  Not to mention ski resorts - those brands are suffering during a winter like this.

Last year was particularly cold, rainy, and snowy and I was completely obsessed with Hunter boots.  Even wrote a blog post about it!

So clearly this current Winter weather affects boots, scarves, shovels, hot cocoa, space heaters, and all the other products that we associate with bad Winter weather.  But I had not realized the reverse effect, though:  the huge up turn in sales of warmer Winter products like light jackets, outdoor running gear (!), charcoal grills, gardening supplies -- the brands in these categories are experiencing far higher than normal sales as people are able to spend more time outside than typically happens in January and February.  Interesting.  Fake snow sales are up +30% (reminds me of that scene from Modern Family!).

Makes doing brand plans in categories like these as much about the Farmer's Almanac as it is about clever strategy.  So as I get ready to walk to work with only a sports coat and light scarf after a nice little run around the neighborhood .... let's hear it for Spring.  Maybe next year I can go skiing :)

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, North America of Cohn & Wolfe
Author of The Experience Effect series
Professor at NYU

PS - Join us for live tweets during The Academy Awards (about the marketing of course).  Follow #OscarExp on Twitter starting Sunday night at 6:00pm EST.  We'll have fun!

1 comment:

  1. This winter has been anomalous, in the US like in my native country Italy. Imaginably this was hard to predict for businesses supplying climate-dependent products or services. In Italy we didn’t see a snow flake until the end of January (of course, it then started snowing like it hadn’t in over 27 years). What we did see was people sunbathing at the beach on Christmas eve! This extraordinary climatic event was hilariously exploited by one of the largest European mobile communication companies (Vodafone) to reach the spirits and feelings of the consumers. With this TV ad (that at the very beginning gave me that warm feeling of the cosy Christmas Coke ads) Vodafone managed to promptly take advantage of an unusual season, which affects consumers from any socioeconomic level, to advertise itself. The message to the viewers is that despite the lack of snow, white landscapes, snowmen, etc, small things like buying a cell phone can make you enjoy Christmas nonetheless (“Sono le piccole cose che ti fanno godere il Natale”) .