How much crazier can it get?
The latest about big data marketing.

I was reading recently, between sips of coffee and my daily news, an article written by Jack Neff titled “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs: How Weather Forecast Predicts Walmart’s Sales Outlook.”

This decade will definitely be remembered as the era of predictability. Since their creation, Google and Facebook have been investing tremendous sums of money in learning about us by collecting vast amounts of data about our likes and habits to predict more accurately which ad to push and so forth.

In the recent years, we saw Netflix produce many successful original shows such as House of Cards based on big data. Another major milestone came from Amazon who can now guarantee same-day delivery by stocking up their inventory based on neighborhood trends.

By the way, that trend isn’t exclusive to a handful of consumer brands. In our craft, some national healthcare clients are also trying to use their data to craft a predictive model in order to better forecast their expansion costs and return on investment.

Today, it’s Walmart’s turn to mark a new milestone in the big data game. According to the article, Walmart has been able to observe buying trends based on weather data. For instance, putting up umbrella or snow-shovel displays in advance of rain or snow.

“…in the second year of an extensive partnership with the Weather Co., the Earth’s largest retailer is delving far deeper into sometimes unlikely correlations between weather and store sales on a Zip Code level. Even when those correlations make no obvious sense, Walmart has been acting on them with store-level merchandising and hyper-local digital advertising — and achieving big results,” according to U.S. Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Quinn.

“In recent talks at the University of Arkansas’ Center for Retail Excellence fall conference, at the Association of National Advertisers Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando, and with Ad Age, Mr. Quinn revealed some of the unusual weather-purchase relationships his team has discovered.”

“We didn’t know, for example, that when it’s low wind, that has some impact on whether or not people will eat berries,” Mr. Quinn said at the University of Arkansas Oct. 9. Ideal berry weather turns out to be low wind with temperatures below 80 degrees. So, Walmart has begun serving up merchandising displays and digital ads for berries in Zip Codes where such weather exists, and as much as tripling berry sales when it does,” he said.

“Walmart also has found people are more likely to eat steak when it’s warm out with higher winds but no rain, but not if it gets too hot. On the other hand, ground beef does better with higher temperature, low wind, and mostly sunny conditions. Salads sell better when the temperature tops 80 but winds are low. You don’t necessarily have to know why,” Mr. Quinn said. “Just serve up the hamburger ads in those conditions,” which he said has led to an 18% improvement in sales.

“Walmart has found thousands of such correlations that it’s now trying to harness,” he said.

Of course, just like in Facebook and their long struggle with the privacy issues, some people might think it’s too much of an invasion in their private lives; however, the way I personally see it, just like with the controversial vaccinations, you always have to measure pros versus cons of everything. Personally, I love receiving my package from Amazon same day, and if I could, I would like to receive my package within the hour. I also thoroughly enjoy House of Cards. AND furthermore, if I am lost in Canada and my car won’t start, I would like to be able to enter a Walmart and not have to search the whole store for jumper cables. From my perspective, there is no difference between what drives a decision now than it did 30 years ago. Everything is based on convenience, and smart marketers have been able to capitalize on it. Big round of applause to Walmart, Amazon, Netflix, and many more that I forget. I love you, and I am excited to see what other relevant content you’ll be able to push in my direction.