June 27, 2011

Coke's Vending Program Shifts Into High Gear

Interactive Vender Enters Beta Test Phase And Takes Center Stage In Spectrum Of Innovative Equipment Displayed At Chicago Show - writeup by Emily Jed of VendingTimes

Coca-Cola has kicked off the beta test of its Interactive Vender project with a second-generation machine showcased at the recent National Automatic Merchandising Association One­Show in Chicago. The beverage giant also unveiled a striking new thermoformed panel for its closed-front packaged beverage venders, and drew crowds for a close look at its touchscreen Freestyle fountain beverage dispenser.
The second-generation Coca-Cola Interactive Vender incorporates the same screen layout and functionality as the prototype, but officials described refinements to its inner workings as contributing to "a more robust, reliable and scalable solution." Coca-Cola launched its pilot test a year ago at Simon Property Group malls in the Southeast, and in other high-traffic public venues nationwide. The test machines have performed strongly and generated excitement by transforming the vending experience "from a functional transaction to a memorable interaction," reported Coca-Cola Refreshments vice-president of industry communications Ira Gleser.

Coca-Cola Refreshments, which encompasses the vending operations of recently acquired Coca-Cola Enterprises, is currently swapping out the initial test machines and replacing them with the second-generation model, which incorporates enhancements suggested by the first part of the trial.

It is also deploying additional machines into new test sites. The beta test will primarily target venues where younger consumers gather, since the pilot study identified them as the demographic most attracted to interactive technology. Coca-Cola will evaluate its future deployment strategies based on the results, Gleser explained.

The high-tech machine, developed by Coca-Cola, Samsung and interactive marketing agency Sapient, is based on the chassis of Royal Vendors' Model 804 and fitted with a 46" LCD touchscreen and a sophisticated controller providing multimedia functionality. Flash technology, motion graphics, high-definition video messaging and Bluetooth short-range wireless capability can support a broad spectrum of patron-pleasing features such as "click-through" promotions that allow consumers to interact with Coca-Cola brands and learn about location-specific promotions.

The machine's touchscreen panel is arranged into three media zones. A customizable dynamic display for advertising and related video content is at the top; beneath it is the selection zone, where consumers can scroll through a graphic product display of the machine's selections, and "spin" any bottle icon 360º to review nutritional information. At the bottom is an "interactive" application zone from which the consumer can "click through" to display a promotional message (and many other video programs) in the advertising zone at the top. Content for all three zones is updated remotely.

The state-of-the-art Coke vender provides a platform for applications ranging from games patrons can play on the machine's screen to mobile phone ringtone and "wallpaper" downloads, digital coupons and social networking. One such example, demonstrated at the NAMA OneShow, was a game that consumers activate by touching the "Memory Match" button in the machine's application zone. Filling the entire screen, the game challenges the patron to match pairs of Coca-Cola brand logos -- like the classic card game "Concentration" -- before time runs out.

Coca-Cola also plans to incorporate some of its high-profile marketing partnerships into the messaging for the Interactive Vender, Gleser told VT.

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Posted by staff at June 27, 2011 07:34 AM