Predicting Heatwave Fan Sales With Search Trend Analysis

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Yes, you guessed it – today we’re talking heatwaves. More specifically, fans. As the mercury hits 37 degrees across the UK, the media accompanies its heatwave coverage by capitalising on the opportunity for sponsored content from retailers. onefourzero takes a look at how search demand really performs when the UK is at its hottest.

Looking back over weather data over recent years has shown a slight increase during the summer months. Searches for fans have also increased, but far from slightly. Indeed, searches rose from 518,400 in July 2015 to 2,868,640 in July 2018 (average temperatures 15.7 degrees celsius and 18.7 respectively). This search demand change represents a 453.36% increase.

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Consumers React… Drastically

Whilst temperatures have gone up slightly over the past few summers, response from consumers has been dramatic. But why so drastically?

The intense seasonality of these product searches highlights the opportunities for retailers to run targeted seasonal activity on marketing channels such as paid search, to capitalise on the sudden influx of potential buyers who enter the purchase funnel in a highly-motivated state, but without clear brand intentions.

Search demand can also provide a steer on product development and stock levels. For example, observing the relationship between searches for desk and tower fans since 2016:

Searches for fans have been increasing steadily in peak summer months since 2016, rising 61.4% from 2016 to 2017, and then 90.2% in the following period. Based on that rate of growth, the 2019 forecast would indicate a 132% rise in UK consumers’ interest in 2019. Early sales figures from John Lewis (+120%) and Currys PC World (+200%) appear to support an overall industry figure in this region.

Desk, Tower or Bladeless Fans?

While tower fans seem to gather more demand in general, and have witnessed high growth (up 86.2% in 2018) over the summer months every year, desk fans have shown a slightly faster growth over the past year, at 97.5%. As desk fans are cheaper and smaller, they possibly represent a more convenient individual investment than tower fans which are more suitable for larger spaces (i.e. offices and larger dwellings). Finally, bladeless fans still appear to be novelty products, with lower demand figures and slower growth of 75.1% in 2018, though it’s probably more the case that people are searching for the key brand name in bladeless fans – Dyson.

As the heat is set to hit an all-time high over the summer this year, search demand therefore suggests the more profitable vertical for product development lies in desk fans.

Other Hot Heatwave Terms

We also took a look into other seasonal top-sellers, assessing performance growth over recent years, looking at the search terms: ‘parasols’, ‘ice ‘cream’, ‘shorts’, ‘sunscreen’ and ‘lido’, to see how they compare. Like fans, we observed that parasols have seen a 90.2% increase in search interest between 2017 and 2018, whilst the term ‘lido’ rose by 86.5%. The other terms we looked at have also grown in search popularity.

Temperatures may be rising, but there is another reason for this rising search demand, which we touched on above. Real-world events are almost always a trigger for search demand, and when a topic experiences such high media coverage as we see whenever a heatwave hits, consumers react. Knowing this, brands plough marketing resources into stimulating demand through those aforementioned sponsored articles and paid search spend. At the end of the day, it all comes down to marketing heatwaves as drastic events for which retailers have the solution, and – unsurprisingly – it works.

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