Quaker Oats Co. knows that for every 5 degrees the mercury rises above 80, sales of its Gatorade sports drink increase incrementally. So as Americans from Texas to Michigan, New York to Colorado sweltered in record heat last week, Gatorade spokeswoman Patti Jo Sinopoli said, "We could not be more delighted with the weather."
If every cloud has a silver lining, every heat wave has a positive ripple effect on certain businesses-marketers who sell fans, air conditioners, ice cream and cool beverages, and those who market cool-weather destinations in the northern U.S. and on the water. Because the hot weather came early this year, many got a bonus on top of their normal big summer sales.
Similarly, retailers offering a fast, convenient way to chill out were excited about the 90-100 degree temperatures.
A spokeswoman for Southland Corp.'s 7-Eleven chain said, "We're expecting monster numbers" on the chain's icy Slurpees this month. "When it gets really hot, people who usually buy canned and bottled drinks move over to the fountain for the ice," she said. "They gravitate toward the 64-oz. Double Gulp [fountain drinks] and the 32-oz. Slurpee. And 7-Eleven has not yet even broken its summer Slurpee promotion, scheduled for July.
Judith Waldrop, research editor for American Demographics and author of the book "The Seasons of Business," said hot weather "drives people out of their homes." That means less attention to things like books and magazines.
Sales of Baskin-Robbins' ice cream and new Yogurt Gone Crazy flavors were hot last week, said Larry Kurzweil, VP-marketing. But like other retailers, he doesn't want the heat to get out of hand. "Once you hit the double 90s-90 degree weather and humidity in the 90s-you start having a fall back in terms of customer traffic," he said. "As much as we pray for warm weather, the double 90s will kill you."
Likewise, beer marketers say they love summer temperatures in the 80s. But when the mercury hits 90, sales slide, because people aren't heading out to restaurants and bars.
Written by Julie Liesse with contributions from Jeanne Whalen, Leah Rickard and Christy Fisher.