The Internet and smart phones have radically changed the way consumers shop and radically decreased our patience when it comes to daily annoyances like store hours, delivery times, and having to travel a quarter of a mile to rent a movie.
Not lost in this high-tech transition, however, are vending machines. The aforementioned movie rental can now be conducted through big red (or blue) machines. For decades, Japan has established itself as the high-tech gadget capital of the world. Not coincidentally, they’ve also carved out a niche for themselves when it comes to the ability to buy just about anything from a vending machine.
The trend is catching on in our country, too. And as vending technology becomes more sophisticated, so too have the products that can be purchased. Everything from iPods, shoes, umbrellas, and freshly butchered meats can be had with the push of a button.
Even traditional vending-style products like soft drinks are receiving new-and-improved delivery methods.
Coca-Cola might be a 120-year-old brand, but that hasn’t stopped the company from staying on the cutting edge of consumer demand and technology. Not long ago, the company rewrote fountain soda history with the development of Coca-Cola Freestyle, a touchscreen soda dispenser that offers more than 100 different varieties of fizzy refreshment.
The machines, which have been installed in Burger King restaurants nationwide, feature all the usual Coke products, but are renowned for their selection of non-traditional flavors. These options include raspberry Coke, orange Diet Coke, Sprite with vanilla (or cherry, strawberry, grape and raspberry), Fanta peach, and a laundry list of flavored Dasani water and Powerade drinks.
For consumers, it’s refreshment heaven, but for brands, it’s a good example of how a bevy of choices and a cool delivery method can breathe new life into a stalled distribution channel.