How to Turn Bad Weather Into Great Sales

The words polar vortex don’t exactly inspire one to shop. But, as a retailer, you can use the prospect (and anticipation) of bone-chilling temps and buckets of snow to your advantage.

Christian Phillips, a contingency underwriter (aka insurance pro!) for the Philadelphia branch of London-based firm Beazley helps jewelery stores develop promotions that generate consumer interest with very little financial risk.

A snowy promotion from Faye’s Diamond Mine (courtesy of the store)

Beazley’s Weather Guard program is fairly scientific—it taps into a meteorological database stretching back more than four decades and sources data from more than 5,500 weather stations. But its tenets can be applied to any retail operation.

The Diamond Family, a fine jewelry shop in Manchester, Mo., recently worked with Beazley on a promotion that offered customers a refund on purchases through December 18 should it snow two inches or more on Christmas Day. Did it snow? No. But the store’s clients arrived in droves, says Phillips, driving up holiday sales to new heights. 

We asked Phillips to share his tips on promoting around the weather report.

  • Weather-related promotions are great “in a time when the economy is not fantastic,” he says. Why? Consumers often need that extra nudge to make purchases—and the more exciting the promotion, the more likely they are to take part in it.
  • Promoting special sales—or even full or partial refunds on merch—if it snows a certain amount on a specific day has the feel of a game. And everyone loves a good game. Consider your competition, notes Phillips. “If Shop A and Shop B have the same [merchandise], and Shop A is running a fun promotion, you’re going to go to Shop A.”
  • “The promotion has to be believable,” he adds. “When the weather is very much on the consumer’s mind—like with the polar vortex, where [low temperature] records are being broken—people will believe that snow might actually happen. A lot of our adversting is on the back of current weather. People know it’s been snowing on a regular basis, and they look to jewelry stores offering these kinds of promotions.”
  • “Try to come up with something different from what every one else is doing,” says Phillips. And if you come up with something really innovative, promote it to local media. A well-placed blog post on the promotion has the potential to reach more eyes than an ad ever could.
  • Think about lowering the threshold. Example: Promise a 15 percent refund if it snows three inches or more, as opposed to a 100 percent refund if it snows a foot. That way, “the money goes further,” says Phillips.
  • Don’t bet the farm. Because it just may dump on Valentine’s Day. Work out how much you stand to lose in any promotion that promises money back. And make sure your store’s finances can take the loss (after a big gain, of course). Note: If you work with an insurance professional, such as Phillips, on an insured promotion, there’s zero risk. “If the weather event does occur, the insurance company is the one to pay up,” says Phillips. “We’ve heard jewelry store owners say they hope it does snow…because their customers would be thrilled.”

A promotion that feels like a fun gamble from Gem Source (courtesy of the store). 






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JCK Senior Editor

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