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Mobile Communications: an Effective Tool for Building Customer Relationships

For pet marketers and retailers with digital aspirations, clinching an online sale might seem like the holy grail, but smarter digital marketing has a loftier aim: personalizing and cementing customer relationships. The payoffs are real.


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Remember when there were only three TV channels? I’m not saying I do, but once upon a time that’s how it was, and marketers looking to connect with consumers needed to be on at least one of them.

Flash forward. Time spent on digital media surpassed time spent watching TV in 2013, according to eMarketer, and the transition doesn’t end there; in 2014, non-voice time on mobile devices surpassed time on desktop/laptop devices.

To a large extent, millennials are leading the digital charge. According to Nielsen, 85 percent of them own a smartphone, forming a mobile-equipped base of about 70 million young adults age 18-34. But it’s not just millennials. Nielsen research also shows that adults age 35-49 are heavy into digital, spending more time each week on PCs, smartphones and tablets than millennials do, and those age 50-64 are no slackers either. This means that all of the most pet-prone age cohorts are increasingly likely to integrate mobile and Internet into their shopping processes.

What’s more, pet owners are even more into digital devices and technologies than their non-pet-owning counterparts. According to Packaged Facts’ August 2015 Pet Owners Survey, pet-owning adults outstrip non-pet owners across the board—for smartphones, laptops, desktops, tablets, mobile apps and other cellphones.

For pet marketers and retailers with digital aspirations, clinching an online sale might seem like the holy grail, but smarter digital marketing has a loftier aim: personalizing and cementing customer relationships. The payoffs are real.

In the above-noted survey, mobile app features/communications from a store or brand in the past 30 days influenced 12 percent of pet owners to buy a particular pet product, while such communications influenced 10 percent of pet owners to spring for a particular service. Texting also is making waves: A message from a store or brand in the past month helped influence 13 percent of pet owners to buy a particular product, while a text influenced the decision of nine percent of pet services customers.

You don’t have to be PetSmart to put texting to work; text messages are an ideal way for small retailers to connect with customers in ways they are likely to appreciate, such as letting them know a favorite product is on sale or back in stock.

Social media can be turned to similar advantage. Among pet owners active on social media (such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter), the top three reasons for “liking” a pet brand or retailer are to “get special deals,” “learn when new product items are introduced” and “because I like the brand/retailer.”

Like texting, social media is an equal opportunity marketing venue for pet marketers and retailers small and large. And, for the more astute, regularly connecting with consumers via mobile devices—in addition to tablets, laptops, desktops, etc.—isn’t the future; it’s now.

 

David Lummis is the lead pet-market analyst for Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com. He contributed to Packaged Facts’ report referenced here, Pet Product Marketing Trends in the U.S.: Technology, Mobile, and Social Media (December 2015).

 

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Pet Product News.

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