World-first interactive information stations being installed in Australian pet stores have been a huge hit with cat and dog owners. Brand manager for Advance Pet Food, Neil Thorneycroft, says the electronic pet information stations are a global innovation.

“The information stations will give expert information to customers, help train retail staff and encourage pet owners to visit their local vet more often,” he says.

Yeahpoint CEO John Anderson says the development of the pet care centres is a tailored response to a retail marketing challenge and is well coordinated between Mars Petcare (Advance), the Fifth P and Yeahpoint.

“The main issue for Advance – a premium supplier of food for dogs and cats – is it needed to find cut through in a market where its major competitor has strong relationships with vets and pet store owners,” says Anderson.

He says the new digital multimedia stations are designed to position Advance as the expert – not only in nutrition – but in the total wellbeing of pets.

“Our interactive digital screens provide a wealth of information for pet owners, which is easy to navigate and well presented,” he says.

The Advance advisory centres give cat and dog owners advice on topics such as dog and cat breed profiles; selecting the most suitable pet; behavioural advice; health and wellbeing information; a pet food calculator and nutritional advice.

The developers consulted widely with local veterinarians, vet nurses and animal behaviourists to provide information specifically for the Australian market. The digital screens are attached to printers allowing browsers to print off their results, or alternatively, to forward the information to their email address.

Thorneycroft says the patented pet care centres have been installed in 10 stores, with a planned mass rollout starting in 2008.

“We have had an excellent response from pet and store owners who really appreciate our advice, not just about correct nutrition for their animals, but about a range of topics they might want to look up relating to their pet or be asked on a daily basis,” he says.

“The information is provided as an initial resource and the intention is to encourage pet owners to consult their vets or animal experts for more specific help.”

He says the digital multimedia solution is part of a repositioning campaign for Advance. The objective is to use the scientific knowledge of Waltham (part of Mars Petcare) and Australian-based Advance’s local knowledge to provide the best pet food and pet care advice, because “we are not only pet experts, but pet people”.

“Based on the response in Australian pet shops and at our international contacts, we are sure there will be overseas interest in what we have developed with our partner, Yeahpoint,” says Thorneycroft.

“When we began working with Advance we did not attempt an off-the shelf, point-of-product solution.

“Instead, we spent time with Advance to understand their marketing challenge, and the result was the digital advice centres which position Advance as caring about the total wellbeing of your pet.”

Yeahpoint solutions involve interactive multimedia devices placed at the point of product in retail environments with a view to engaging consumers and influencing their decisions and buying habits. All interactions are tracked, so delivering consumer insights directly to marketers.