Comment: How retailers can use the weather to tap into music festival fever

Glastonbury may be a distant memory, but it should come as no surprise that “festival fever” is set to rocket again as we approach the Bank Holiday weekend and the likes of Reading and Leeds festivals. And that means more opportunities for retailers to cash in on this ever-growing market.

The UK‘s music fans are set to ramp up their online spending next week according to data from eBay. Searches for “festival” on eBay rose by almost a third (29 per cent) in the third week of August last year, compared to the week before, with shoppers making over 30,000 searches for “festival”, and almost 111,000 searches for “tent”.

From family-friendly raves to boutique glamping, the UK festival scene offers something for everyone — male or female, 15 or 50. For retailers, there is a huge opportunity to capture a share of this lucrative fun-loving wallet – but only by targeting the right customers at the right times. By observing shopping patterns, retailers can not only identify who is likely to be a festival-goer, but how and when they shop and what they might need to buy in future – whether they‘re a planner or a last minute panic-buyer. 

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As well as thinking ahead, retailers need to retain a degree of flexibility in their festival campaigns — as even greater than the desire to know who will be headlining is our need to know what weather the Great British summer will treat us to. Up and down the country, excited festival-goers are hitting refresh on their weather apps; and our insights suggest that retailers should do the same. There are dramatic gains to be made by retail brands that are quick to react to the short but rewarding windows of opportunity created by unpredictable factors such as the weather this summer. 

For example, we know that searches for “waterproof” and “wellies” on eBay shot up by 46 per cent and 97 per cent respectively during the week of Reading and Leeds festivals last year compared to the beginning of the month, after the Met Office predicted a weekend of washout weather. In fact, searches for “waterproof” almost doubled on the Monday before the festivals from two days before, as flash floods hit the south of England. 

With sunny weather expected this week, we know that heat can have a big impact on shopping behaviour,ltoo. Searches for “sunglasses” rose by a fifth (20 per cent) during the first week of July last year, as temperatures soared to well over 30 °C in some parts of the country. As obvious as it may sound, there are big wins for those retail brands that are prepared for all eventualities – and can be nimble enough to act accordingly.   

By using observed insight to identify festival fans and react to unpredictable factors such as the weather, brands can stay relevant and offer consumers what they need and what they want this summer. Not only will this enhance the shopping experience, it will make retailers‘ ad spend go further too.  

By Rob Bassett, Head of UK and EU Multinational Advertising, eBay

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