2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight: Blizzards & Beer - How Weather Affects What We Buy

Written by Megan Collyer | Monday, Feb 24, 2014

At SXSW 2014, Vikram Somaya talks about how weather impacts what we buy

Vikram Somaya runs a division of the Weather Company that has been focused on the intersection of weather and big data for a year and considers himself “a golden weather god.” Somaya says that weather is fascinating and the story he’ll tell at the 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival during his session, “Blizzards & Beer - How Weather Affects What We Buy,” is worth hearing. We think so too. That’s why we’ve featured him in this installment of the Session Spotlight. Follow Somaya on Twitter at @vikramsomaya for more information about the media and weather.

SXSW: What is the idea behind “Blizzards & Beer?”
Somaya: Weather affects everything. Certainly enough to make consumers and marketers behave in strange and unusual ways. Working with the massive trove of weather data amassed by The Weather Channel, Vikram Somaya has found a series of strange and unusual connections between the weather and consumer behavior. In this presentation, hear some of the fascinating facts surrounding weather-driven purchase behavior and emotional resonance. Welcome to WeatherFX - This ain’t your momma’s weatherman.

SXSW: Have you spoken about this idea before?
Somaya: I have indeed spoken on this topic on a variety of occasions. These include large conferences, primarily in media and data down to more intimate affairs over the last year. There has been significant evolution in terms of how we discuss weather's impact on consumers though, and what I plan to present at SXSW will include mainly new material and certainly a new format.

SXSW: What types of SXSW registrants do you think would like to attend?
Somaya: Weather tends to be universally interesting, however, given that the focus of the session is on its impact on consumer behavior, I would imagine this would certainly appeal to marketers and media folk of all ilk. It would also be of interest to weather enthusiasts, storm chasers, curators of the strange and supranormal and those who love data mashery.

SXSW: What excites you most about this session?
Somaya: No-one has ever done this before. We're using weather to read consumer tea leaves. That's just pretty badass.

SXSW: What achievement in your life are you most proud of?
Somaya: Karan, 5 and Rohan, 2. They're kickass and it's completely because I am an amazing parent. My wife won't ever see this, correct?

SXSW: What was your favorite vacation and why?
Somaya: Two and a half weeks in Belize. First week and some spent on a pseudo-island named Silk Cay 20+ miles off the coast. It was about 100 metres square. The next half was spent in Francis Ford Copolla's lovely Turtle Bay Resort. Perfect mix.

SXSW: Final question – does the future of technology excite or frighten you?
Somaya: Both. How could it not?

Watch this website for more installments of the 2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight. Click here for the complete list of programming for March in Austin. For tips on interesting sessions to attend, visit the new Recommendation page. Register now to attend “Blizzards & Beer - How Weather Affects What We Buy” and other incredible programming at SXSW Interactive 2014.