When it comes to encouraging good health in pets, Nestle’s Purina PetCare brand is putting mobility where its marketing is with a smartphone app that lets owners keep track of the date, time and distance of their dog walks.
The Purina Petometer, a free app for iPhone and Android rolled out in early June, lets owners upload photos and profile data for up to six dogs and share details and locations of those walks with their Facebook friends. A barking-dog alarm signals when the pre-set duration of the walk is over. The app also lets pet owners set alerts for the next walk time, access pet exercise routines as created by Purina’s animal care experts, and build a calendar of walks, veterinary visits, grooming appointments and other canine commitments.
Besides being available on the iPhone and Android app stores, the Petometer application is also available from the Purina showcase on the Walmart site.
The app is meant to reinforce dog lovers’ engagement with the Purina brand by providing a valuable mobile service, says Sherry Smith, senior vice president of advertiser sales for Triad Retail Media, the digital firm responsible both for the app and for the Walmart site showcase.
“[Purina] knows that mobile offers a chance to reach consumers on their path to purchase throughout their research and their shopping trip,” says Smith. “They asked for some concepts that would drive brand awareness. But most importantly they wanted to promote health and wellness initiatives for pets.”
Besides offering the Petometer app, the “Purina Pet Park” portal on the Walmart site also offers tools for naming, training and judging the health of their pets. They can also play pet-themed interactive online games such as “The Fast and the Furriest”, read pet care content from Purina or watch short “Real Pet Story” videos about successful shelter rescues.
Brand on the Petometer app is very light—little more than a Purina logo while the app is loading and at the open screen. [Purina] wanted to focus more on content, information sharing and providing a real service for pet owners,” says Smith. “So they’ve treated branding more like a sponsorship, as more of a secondary research tool for their consumers. The app itself is focused on the core of the pet walks and utilities.”
Stronger branding takes place on the permanent Purina page of the Walmart site, where visitors can also watch current TV spots, order free samples and research or shop Purina products via a clickable carousel.
But even here, Purina branding shares space with other elements meant to engage pet owners. For example, visitors can click to link to AdoptaPet.com to find pound animals ready for a new home in their location. They can also access the “Purina Casting Call”, an interactive feature that lets would-be owners “audition” various breeds of dogs and cats on their needs and habits, and then issue “callbacks”—i.e. search local shelters for only the chosen breeds.
To publicize the app, Purina has relied on the sharing function, which lets users post a Google map of their current or favorite walk to friends on Facebook or Twitter. And of course, on the natural traffic that arrives at the Purina page of the Walmart site.
While it’s strictly a useful tool for now, the Purina Petometer might acquire some branding or direct-sales functionality as it builds a critical mass of users. “Future iterations of the Petometer mobile app might have some options to shop now as we continue to roll it out,” Smith says. “We may decide on the as we continue to test and learn and see what interested the consumer.”