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Nestle Purina bulks up mobile strategy with Petcentric app

Recognizing that pet lovers are increasingly relying on mobile technology for their information needs, Nestle Purina PetCare Co. has expanded the reach of its Petcentric offering.

The Petcentric application is now available for BlackBerry users, and a new version with upgraded features is offered to iPhone users. With the enhancements, the application is available to more than 66 percent of the smartphone market.

?We wanted to provide Purina users with a high-functioning destination to access all of the Petcentric content,? said Alexandre Mars, CEO of Phonevalley and head of mobile at Publicis Groupe, New York. ?With an app as robust as Petcentric ? location-based functionality, user generated content, gallery, videos, news and tips ? it made the most sense to start with apps.

?That being said, apps are only one part of Purina?s 360-degree mobile strategy,? he said.

Purina's Petcentric is now available to 500,000 iPad owners.

With the recent upgrades, the application now provides pet owners an even more engaging mobile experience through location-based utility, entertaining content featuring videos and photos, and relevant pet information.

The new features offer a gallery of top pet news stories and videos every day, and new ways to search for professional pet sitters and pet-friendly places using GPS technology.

?This localized and timely utility is the inherent great thing about mobile applications and the mobile Web,? Mr. Mars said. ?Also, consumers love to look at great pet videos and pics and we?ve got all that in one location.?

Pet lovers can rate and comment on pet-friendly locations and add their own favorite places.

Petcentric has proven to be very popular with pet lovers who use smartphone technology. 

The application was developed by Phonevalley, a mobile marketing agency.

The application provides pet lovers with a simple tool to find the closest and most popular pet-friendly places in the United States in various categories, including lodging, dog parks, beaches, restaurants, travel, services and events.

For example, it helps locate local parks to take pets for a walk, find an area veterinarian and identify pet-friendly travel accommodations and providers.

Mobile offers unique engagement opportunities to reach pet owners on the go and deliver them valuable utilities.

The new version of the application consistently extends Purina?s reach to BlackBerry users and Purina hopes to increase brand affinity. 

Purina is all about making connections with its consumers.

The relationship that people have with their pets is obviously a very personal one, and since mobile is the most personal of all mediums, it is a perfect channel for reaching consumers and providing them a service.

?The strategy behind the application is to provide an engaging experience for pet-lovers,? Mr. Mars said. ?We look at success not purely based on the number of downloads, but rather on engagement ? repeat visits, time spent on the app and etcetera.

?To have someone download your app and then never open it again does not provide much value for any brand,? he said. ?For Petcentric, Purina provided utility and entertainment in order to encourage more time on the app and we?re seeing that users are spending a significant time on the application.?