Purina uses real-time marketing to take loyalty to new heights

Stephen Whiteside

The loyalty most pet owners have to their cats or dogs is far greater than any brand could ever imagine. And it's the stuff of social media.

Fully 1.7 million items of pet-related content appear on Twitter each month, equating to 39 conversations a minute. And although this output can seem disconnected and scattergun, there are distinct moments when a response will almost always be welcome: especially if it offers affirmation, assurance or assistance. And, on those occasions, one-to-one personalised marketing at scale – long a promise of the digital ecosystem – makes sudden sense to consumers, and, indeed, to brands, largely due to the sales and loyalty benefits anticipated to result from a product communicating directly with its most desirable target audience.

For Purina, Nestlé's pet-food division, the sheer amount of people talking about their cats and dogs on social media hinted at a chance to reach its audience as individuals. In June 2013, the brand thus started actively replying to posts made by many of these Twitter users, from tweets mentioning how much somebody loves their kitten and the fact it was a beloved pet's birthday to exasperated cries for help regarding dogs chewing the furniture or becoming frightened during the fireworks on the Fourth of July.