Pet Food Recall Creates “Husky” Traffic

    May 14, 2007

Back in March, online traffic to pet-related sites saw a significant increase due to the pet food recall. Nielsen//NetRatings has released data that shows visits to pet related sites grew a 115 percent in March over the previous month.

In February there were 9.1 million unique visits to pet sites, and for March the number more than doubled to 19.5 million visits. Menu Foods, the largest pet food supplier in North America announced a recall on March 16th after receiving complaints about kidney failure in pets that had consumed the tainted food.

Masses of pet owners went online to search for products that were affected,and the Menu Foods Web site attracted 12.8 million unique visitors in March. While Menu Foods was not well known to consumers before the recall, other popular brands saw an increase in visitors. had 2.4 million unique visitors in March, and Purina grew 30 percent from a unique audience of 1.5 million to 2 million.

"Consumers have come to rely on company Web sites to provide them with up-to-date information on their products and services, especially in urgent situations," said Michael Pond, media analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings.

"From Jet Blue’s ‘Passenger Bill of Rights’ to ‘Iams Promise,’ businesses are leveraging their online presence to communicate directly with customers and re-establish trust after a crisis. This is especially important for companies that rely on brand recognition and brand loyalty; for them, engaging consumers in an online conversation is a critical step in recovering from a serious misstep."

"Pet food recall" was the most searched pet food term, resulting with 1.4 million queries in March and it was the 75th most popular search term overall. "Dog food recall" and "Menu Foods" were the second and third most popular pet food search terms; with 1.2 million and 485,000 search queries respectively. Total pet food searches for the month were 4.9 million.

"Nearly five million search queries related to the pet food recall demonstrate how heavily consumers rely on search providers for gathering critical information," said Pond.

"In addition to providing easily accessible content on their own Web sites, companies who want to communicate with their customers during a crisis should also consider buying relevant key words to drive traffic to the right place."

 Menu Foods