I recently encountered the new Coca-Cola Freestyle fountain machine which dispenses more than 100 different drinks. Described as the first software-driven fountain dispenser from the Coca-Cola Company and developed in collaboration with the Bsquare company, the machine employs highly concentrated flavor cartridges and proprietary micro-dosing technology that deliver any of hundreds of drinks on demand. It works by LCD touchscreen beginning with a parent beverage and driving down to any one of hundreds of drink options. It had a clean and simple touch screen with little bottle-cap-like icons indicating drink choices.
I remember the announcement of these new machines from Coca-Cola that would feature hundreds of drink options but lacked physical conceptualization of it. So now I see. It features a broad range of beverages not previously sold in the U.S. and includes sparkling and still branded drinks like water, juices, and teas.
This is what brands do. They differentiate. They give consumers choices, innovate and lead.
Worth noting is how many products—for example, some soap brands—are not universally available across retailers. Multiple visits to disparate retailers with highly similar inventory are required. By contrast, Coca-Cola’s new machine offers more than one hundred different products at the end of a fingertip. Retailers can’t display that density and selection of product on one shelf, or likely even aisle.
“The Coca-Cola Freestyle dispenser uses proprietary PurePour Technology™ to make dozens of branded beverages fresh to order, in the same amount of space as the current eight-valve machine.“
Here’s an official tour of Coca-Cola freestyle from Bsquare.
Several advantages of the machine are well apparent:
- Hundreds of drink options means selling all along the tail of drink tastes–more options = more sales.
- I’d think that as different beverage preferences develop and are identified through the machine’s software, that tailored availability of those beverages in retail stores could follow.
- Maintenance and replenishment schedules appear efficiently facilitated by remote network communications with the machine’s software.
- Space utilization/efficiency for proprietors by freeing up whatever backroom or cabinet space from separate CO2 gas cannisters and sweetener.
- It’s empowering to the customer to have that many options literally at your fingertips. Brands that empower are embraced.
Where I was, children ran up to the machine and started “driving”, as if they said, “That magic box has drinks inside. Let’s get some.” <<touch screen, touch screen, touch screen>>. They never paused. They knew it was for them. It was interesting how unamazed they were, acting as though it should be expected to have this many drink options. Adults stood around amazed and in my case, secretly wanting to see the inside of the machine. In an instant I now look differently at not only conventional fountain machines, but—unfairly—at businesses still using them.