Last week, the UK’s hottest day on record saw blazes and wildfires break out across the country and transports systems buckle in the heat. Supermarket shelves were also left sparse, as consumers prepared for the sweltering temperatures, sending sales of staple summer products soaring.

For brands, weather conditions can have a powerful influence on consumption habits. Factors such as temperature, rainfall, humidity, pollen levels and sun exposure can all affect consumer mood and mentality, in turn dictating purchase decisions and propensity to spend. It’s important that brands understand how their audiences are affected by changing weather, to increase the opportunity for contextual communications and to ensure that consumers are being reached in the right mindset in the right place at the right time.

A host of brands used the recent heatwave as an opportunity to engage with their audiences. Magnum ran a 24-hour outdoor campaign, encouraging purchase with an “on the hottest day ever, enjoy it before it melts” message. But it’s not just those brands that are more blatantly connected to climate that can benefit from weather-related activations; Nando’s also jumped on board, tweaking their ‘Peri-ometer’ to mark the hottest day on record, whilst Showcase Cinemas offered free tickets to redheads to encourage them to escape to air-conditioned cinemas.

Brands can also take a more strategic approach to weather and climate. the7stars client Kopparberg are currently live with a temperature-activated social and outdoor campaign to boost cider sales on warmer days, with ads going live once a certain temperature is reached. And whilst weather-activated targeting is no new concept, innovations in the area continue to be made. Encouraged by advertisers, last year, ITV Hub became the first UK broadcaster to launch real-time weather targeting for their self-service programmatic users, showing that appetite for weather-based media planning is there. And with new data and technology continually offering more sophisticated targeting opportunities, it looks set to remain.

It is, however, important to remember the more serious side to the recent heatwave. Extreme weather conditions are a consequence of a warming planet and pose a real threat to life and livelihoods across the globe. This is a reality that is not being over-looked by consumers; according to our most recent Lightbox Lowdown, 70% of the population worry about heatwaves becoming more common. It’s therefore important for brands to not only be agile in response to ever-changing weather patterns, but to also be mindful of the risk of being seen to profit from climate change when using highly contextual weather-activated campaigns.

Sources: the7stars Lightbox Lowdown, Campaign