How Gen Z Buying Habits Are Influenced by Weather

3 themes to better understand these shoppers

How can marketers reach Gen Z in a way that goes beyond simply attaching their brands to the latest trends?

While many assume virality is a key driver of engagement, YouTube’s Culture and Trends Report found that 65% of Gen Zers believe that content that is personally relevant to them is more important than “viral” content. One way for brands to connect with this generation on a deeper, more personal level: the weather.

Using weather as the great equalizer in terms of influence on all generations, IBM Watson Advertising explored its impact on the motivations and decisions of Gen Z to help marketers better understand the emerging demographic.

The IBM research uncovered three primary themes—let’s dive in.

1. Weather and wellness

Gen Z may be more concerned with mental health and physical wellness than previous generations. This sense of wellness appears directly correlated to the forecast. According to IBM Watson’s Advertising Well-Being study, 62% of Gen Zers state that weather significantly impacts their emotional well-being, 12% higher than the general population.

Consequently, this demographic uses weather as a signal to boost their mental state by going outdoors and gathering with friends in person, with 77% relying on The Weather Channel to help them find the best time to do so according to IBM Watson’s Advertising Summer Behavior Survey. Similarly, 85% say milder temperatures impact their social activity, per IBM Watson’s Advertising Fall Behavior Survey.

2. Weather and self-expression

Yet, for this generation of outdoor socializers, emotional well-being is not only a mood; it’s a synthesis of physical comfort and emotional state. More than half of Gen Z respondents cited physical comfort as a top concern in the winter, which was 10% higher than the general population according to IBM Watson’s Advertising Winter Behavior Survey.

This is evident in how weather drives strong usage of products in categories that help with their physical comfort, like personal care and beauty, with 59% saying weather impacts the personal care or beauty products they use every day according to IBM Watson’s survey on the categories.

This pattern trickles into Gen Zers passion for diversity and establishing their unique identity in the world—often using weather as a guide—with 87% of Gen Z respondents to the Winter Survey saying weather impacts what they wear.  

3. Weather and authenticity

But the potential impacts of weather extend beyond appearance and self-care. This is a generation that thirsts for truth and authenticity from the world around them. According to Edelman’s “The Power of Gen Z” report, 85% say that trusting a brand is either important or critical to their purchasing decisions.

So, who do they trust? According to Edelman, the most trusted sources for Gen Z are doctors (77%), scientists (75%) and teachers/professionals (74%). This interest leads to the adoption of science and fact-based weather platforms such as The Weather Channel, which attracts 22 million average monthly Gen Z users according to Comscore data.

How weather impacts Gen Z

While the perspective and purchase behavior of Gen Z consumers may change over time, the influence weather has on their future is evergreen.

Weather is a unique, privacy-forward data signal for understanding Gen Z that marketers can use to connect with their core values, influence their decisions and gain their loyalty for years to come—a precious resource as the ad ecosystem enters a new wave of cookieless innovation.

As product marketing lead at IBM Watson Advertising, Sarah Duffy combines marketing expertise with deep consumer curiosity to serve as a bridge between consumers and businesses.