["Since we launched the App last October, nearly 1,200 people have downloaded it, including 85 new users in June.", "Imagine having a focus group of that size, engagement and access at your fingertips! "]

If you are one of the 940 million people worldwide with a mobile broadband subscription (according to the International Telecommunication Union as reported on mobithinking.com), you have access to all sorts of information and data about petfood via the smart phone or mobile device in your pocket, purse or briefcase. For example, if you have an iPhone or iPad, you can download the free Petfood Industry App to read each new monthly issue and get updated news and information about new products. You can even bookmark specific articles or email them to colleagues.

Since we launched the App last October, nearly 1,200 people have downloaded it, including 85 new users in June. During that month, the App generated 939 sessions and 2,818 visits to the digital magazine, with viewers reading an average of 7.57 per visit. (To join them, visit iTunes and search for “Petfood.”)

If you have any type of smart phone, you can use our Mobile Web Reader (www.petfoodindustry-digital.com) to read the latest issue of the magazine and search for terms or names within articles. The June digital issue had 135 visits from mobile devices—84 Apple, 32 Droid, eight Blackberry and one Windows device—viewing an average of two pages per visit.

Whether I’m using  my smart phone or computer, I’m always amazed at the new sources of pet-related data I come across online. For example, a blog called Hunch (www.blog.hunch.com) had an entertaining infographic by Column Five Media on the personalities of dog owners and cat owners. (Fun “fact”: Both types are generally optimists and talk to animals of all kinds.) To gather the data, Hunch surveyed its users about pet ownership—and received 221,651 responses, which it then crossed with what it claims are over 80 million other responses to dozens of other questions it has posed to users. Imagine having a focus group of that size, engagement and access at your fingertips!

Of course, size  doesn’t guarantee accuracy. I also came across a Consumer Reports article on pet care costs that had me scratching my head over the data—not to mention some of the conclusions drawn from that data, such as the recommendation not to buy premium petfoods based solely on their prices. (Read more at www.petfood-connection.com/profiles/blogs/consumer-reports-pet-care.)
Apparently, part of the reasoning behind this advice is that survey respondents said they spend monthly averages of US$36 on dog food and US$20 on cat food. Who are these respondents? “We conduct many surveys by selecting a random sample from the approximately 7 million readers who subscribe to Consumer Reports and/or to ConsumerReports.org, who are some of the most consumer-savvy people in the nation,” the website says.

But do they represent the majority of US pet owners? Euromonitor International data shows the average North American household spent US$225 in 2010 on not just petfood but also other petcare products; that works out to just US$18.75 monthly. (See www.petfoodindustry.com/7400.html.) According to the American Pet Products Association’s 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, US dog owners spent US$254 on dog food the previous 12 months (just US$21.17 a month) while cat owners spent US$220 on cat food (US$18.33 a month). So the Consumer Reports figures are rather suspect to be the basis of such sweeping and uninformed recommendations.

Having so much information at your fingertips is wonderful benefit of the digital age—as long as you don’t let yourself become dizzied by the data.

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Read more discussion of online petfood resources on Petfood-Connection.com.