Food & Beverage Trends: How Summer Affects Consumer Dining Behavior

Do you have the right summer fixins on hand to heat up your summer sales? Savvy restaurant owners begin preparing for a menu changeover in mid spring knowing that their customers are going to be craving different (not necessarily lighter) fare from late May through September.

It’s not just restaurants that need to be mindful of changes in consumer behavior as the temperatures rise. Any business can enjoy higher sales then according to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

They found that when the temperature rises, so does consumer spending. In fact, the study found that “online shoppers bought more during the warmest days than during the exact same days at one or two years apart, where the temperature was the coldest.” Known as “the temperature-premium” effect, researchers claim that warmer temperatures cause people to be more emotionally warm, as well. And when they are emotionally warm, they feel better about, and are more attached to prospective purchases.

The Temperature Premium

The ideal temperature for increased spending is about 78 degrees Fahrenheit. So how can you translate this information in to actual sales for your business? Even if you don’t run a food and beverage business you can follow their lead to higher sales.

First, you need to apply the temperature premium to your business. Restaurant owners are doing more than sprucing up their outdoor seating areas and making sure the air conditioner is ready for a heavy work out. They’re stocking up on cold drinks, ice cream and holiday food favorites.

Those favorites include also hundreds of millions of hot dogs. It’s true. In 2014, more than 150 million hot dogs were eaten just on the 4th of July. It’s a fair bet that number has risen since then. So if you’re in the food business, you might consider what gets eaten along with those hot dogs. Are you stocking enough buns, condiments, baked beans and paper plates?

Move out from there and consider where and how those hot dogs get cooked. Most found their way onto a grill, then a plate on a table that is probably outside. Now might be a good time for a sale on picnicware, tables and yard game equipment. Could your landscape or bug repellant business offer a introductory “spruce up” coupon for people planning to host that holiday get together? Indoor cleaning services might also consider offering a “busy hostess” helping hand discount.

Clues from the Calendar

Next, you could consider the changing seasons within the summer season. You might notice in your area that the foods eaten on the 4th of July differ from those eaten on Memorial Day and Labor Day. Fresh asparagus that might be served alongside a steak on Memorial Day won’t be available at the end of summer, but there will be plenty of zucchini.

How do shifts in availability of supplies affect your business? Can you turn those in to ”limited time” opportunities for your customers?

The other calendar to consider is your own. Looking at historical data of your company’s sales, and comparing it to past years weather reports is the best way to determine how warm days are impacting sales.  If you know there is a heat wave coming, and you understand what items your customers typically want, you can be much more efficient in your marketing efforts, for both popular and not so popular products.

Get Started Today

July is just around the corner. Here are some things you can do today, to better plan your summer marketing.

  • Look at historical data and see how last summer affected sales in general, as well as for different products, and during specials or promotions. Are there any spikes or drops that correlate with certain weather patterns?
  • If you don’t have the data to do this, be sure to get a system in place to collect data this year, so that you’ll be able to use it next year.
  • Using what you have found, determine what promotions and marketing you can create to attract customers or capitalize on business based on this behavior.