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"Digital transformation changes the game"

Pet Conference in Budapest,

At the International Pet Conference in Budapest, Bernard Meunier gave the keynote speech on the impact of digitalisation on the pet business.

Pet Conference in Budapest, Bernard Meunier, Nestlé Purina Petcare

Bernard Meunier is CEO Europe, Middle East and North Africa of Nestlé Purina Petcare.

Bernard Meunier, keynote speaker at the International Pet Conference in Budapest, describes the opportunities that digitalisation offers the pet business.

Mr Meunier, in your keynote speech at the International Pet Conference in Budapest, you stressed that 'digital' is a clear opportunity for pet care. What do you mean by this exactly?

Well, from the point of view of the users, technology and digitalisation make life much easier for them. At least, that is what 75 per cent of millennials believe, according to recent studies on this topic. The natural behaviour of millennials is to search online for any information that interests them, including information about products and services. Moreover, when navigating online and engaging with products and brands, they expect tailored engagement based on their past interactions and behaviour. Products and services today therefore have to understand how best to reach millennials and gen Z and then be ready to provide personal services and information to meet their needs.


We are seeing more and more millennials who decide to own a pet also choosing to adopt a pet. As a pet care business, it's important that we consider their online behaviour and expectations when they are searching for information about pets up for adoption, including where to find them, which is the right pet for their circumstances and to how to care for the pet.


From a market point of view, we are seeing some key shifts across the pet care industry: a proliferation and acceleration of digital pet services, the emergence of innovative, data-powered business models, and the acceleration of e-commerce, to mention a few.


We also believe that digitalisation can help support the connection between pets and their owners. An example of this is the launch of our Better with Pets Prize in partnership with Ashoka (see report in PET worldwide 5/2018). 

How is your company preparing for the digital transformation?


Digital transformation is a reality across the whole organisation. For us, digital means engaging with the consumer, customers and key opinion leaders and leveraging technology to do business differently.


Let me give you some concrete examples of how we are building new capabilities or exploring new territories:

  1.  In September 2017, we opened Purina Studios, our European hub for digital & e-commerce, located in the very dynamic tech ecosystem of Barcelona. We have recruited 40 experts in e-commerce and in search, content, social media and personalisation with the ambition to become the digital and e-commerce leader of the category in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. 
  2.  We acquired a majority shareholding in Wamiz, an independently run pet media platform. Wamiz is the number one pet lifestyle platform in Europe, and offers a trusted source of pet care information to pet parents. What attracted us to Wamiz are their digital skills, their entrepreneurial spirit that has made their platform so successful, plus their success with pet adoption activities in France and beyond.
  3.  The Purina Institute, launched earlier this year, is a global professional organisation that serves as the voice of Purina's science. The Purina Institute aims to be a leader in online veterinary science education through sharing relevant scientific findings and ground-breaking research in companion animal nutrition with the global veterinarian community. With this goal, the Purina Institute website is designed to cater to the needs of veterinarians, expanding the body of scientific data available and making it more accessible.

 

In what respect do you think digitalisation will change the international pet supplies business?


Digitalisation offers the opportunity to provide much more personalised solutions. A good example of this is Tails.com, a direct-to-consumer business that provides personalised nutrition to dogs across the UK according to factors such as their age, breed, size and level of activity.


Consumer demand continues to grow for personalised products, as well as direct-to-consumer subscription services, and Tails.com is Europe's most advanced player in this category of the pet food market. At Purina, we are very happy to support them and help them grow.


On the other hand, digitalisation is providing the chance to offer more information for transparency purposes. People are interested in knowing more about the company or the products that they purchase. Consumers are particularly keen to understand if a company meets their own values and is able to demonstrate how they contribute to society more broadly. They also need to know in more detail than ever before what goes into their pet's food. This demand for transparency is met in a number of ways, by offering online information services, or care lines operated by vet nurses/vets or by creating online easy access content such as Purina's initiative: Your Questions Matter. Here, we aim to answer consumers' questions and provide them with all the information on how we produce pet food, including information on the types of ingredients we use and why. 

How can your retail partners benefit from your commitment to digital solutions?


We are working with our retail partners to support consumers throughout the purchase funnel. It starts by providing the right content for when a consumer initiates a search for a particular product or brand. We ensure that we provide the correct packaging-specific format and information on the product to our retail partners.





When you search on the Internet, you can be overwhelmed by the massive amount of information available to you and not always be sure how much of the content you read is from a recognised and credible source. That's why we believe in supporting platforms such as Wamiz, which provide trusted information and are working with many industry and pet care partners who bring added value and insight for the consumer in one place. 

The new reality is connected: can you see digitalisation leading to a closer relationship between industry and retail players? 

 

Digital, through technology, offers the opportunity to retailers and manufacturers to work in partnership with the common objective of enhancing the consumer experience. One of the key challenges is to align the experience to the expectations of consumers - it is important that we learn how to create seamless experiences in an omnichannel environment, where the consumer moves seamlessly between online, mobile, and store. 

Sharing of the right consumer data is a critical enabler and via collaboration we can unlock new insights that will drive additional growth opportunities for the category, the brands and retailers whist improving the consumer experience at the same time.


Enhanced collaboration through digital transformation is also a game changer on the supply chain side with the vision of having seamless end-to-end data and information flows bringing greater transparency, product availability or traceability.

 

 

 

 

 

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