Last spring in Lahore, Pakistan, and New Delhi, India, Coca-Cola vending machines connected consumers in the two communities separated by 325 miles and decades of political tension. The touchscreen machines by Atlanta-based The Coca-Cola Co. invited consumers to make a friend in the other community, “join hands,” and work together to draw a shape or do a dance to earn a can of Coca-Cola. In other places around the world, Coca-Cola vending machines have encouraged fans to trade hugs, smiles, Christmas carols and dance moves or complete James Bond missions for a can of Coca-Cola.
New technologies have transformed vending machines into destinations with experiences, as opposed to quick opportunities to buy a beverage, says Chuck Reed, director of marketing and sales operations support for Crane Payment Innovations (CPI), Malvern, Pa. Large touchscreens enable vending machines to display anything from advertising and promotions to caloric information to games that entice consumers to walk up to the machine and interact with it, he says. As a result, he expects companies that invest in this technology to see significant sales lifts.