There’s more to Coca-Cola than just brown fizzy drinks. The company owns hundreds of brands and variations covering everything from juices to bottled waters.
Unfortunately, putting all those options on display in your local fast food outlet would be a little impractical – and so most dispensers stick to a few favourites. Although these options can be localised based on regional preferences, there are still a lot of people who walk away dissappointed with the (lack of) choice.
Enter ‘Freestyle’, Coke’s new RFID-based drinks dispenser that’s being trialled in selected US states this summer. The dispenser uses a touchscreen interface to allow customers to choose from over 100 different options, mixed to order from 30 different flavour cartridges.
Most interestingly, each cartridge is fitted with an RFID tag which feeds data on consumption to a reader built into the machine. The reader, in turn, sends the data via private network to Coke’s head office.
This real time data can then be used to help trial new products, track regional trends and preferences and potentially (I’d guess) even test market messages as displayed on Freestyle screens.
The restaurants leasing the machines from Coke benefit too. They’ll be able to access data on beverage preferences via a proprietary e-business portal, helping with inventory control.
Freestyle dispensers provide Coke with hugely valuable data – potentially reducing the number of new product failures – and give consumers more choice than ever before – likely leading to an increase in sales.
Not bad for a drinks machine.