Five Ways the Coca-Cola Freestyle® Machine is a Game Changer

Click for video transcript

Two years ago I learned about the Coca-Cola Freestyle® fountain machine from a Fast Company article profiling David Butler, Coca-Cola’s Vice President, Global Design. My first thought was this is a great tool to bring mass personalization to the drink market.

Fast forward two years later to a recent trip to Indianapolis. Hearing a radio commercial for Firehouse Subs promoting the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, I made time to visit – and watch. Seeing people interact with the machine, creating their own blends from 120+ flavor combinations, and helping others in the “community” create their own drinks was an eye-opener.

Customers, in this very unscientific sample, told me they were excited about the machine and enjoyed being able to have their “own” drink.

According to a St. Petersburg Times article,  Firehouse Subs store “sales leaped 16 percent and traffic 11 percent from a year ago in [Freestyle] outfitted locations.”

Butler says ” We’re leveraging design to drive innovation and to win at the point of sale.” Watching Troy, Firehouse’s 86th Street location GM, in the video, I’d say Coke® is winning the point of sale with the Freestyle drink machine.

Here are five reasons why Coca-Cola’s Freestyle machine is a game changer:

1) Mass Personalization allows everyone to customize their own drink. This is driving new traffic and sales to retailers with the machine. Troy told me they get more afternoon off-hours traffic specifically to use the machine.

2)  Better Targeted Messaging because data is fed to Coke and the retailer giving valuable information about drink choices. For example, seeing Caffeine-Free Diet Coke® is popular in a market after 4pm allows the company to better hone their advertising.

3) Restaurants can build loyalty by branding their own drink. Firehouse has their own screen promoting their signature Cherry Lime-Aid®  drink.

4) Coca-Cola can easily test new drinks by combining Freestyle data and social media input.  In May, they announced an additional 19 Freestyle Brands. By seeing how new mixes perform, they can develop brands quicker with better certainty.

5) Secondary brands can gain market share. With the ability to easily customize the base drink offerings, customers will have better access to Coca-Cola smaller brands.

How can Coca-Cola’s experience with Freestyle help you generate ways to personalize offerings to your customers?

– Don Kincaid

Video Transcript

> Don Kincaid: Hi, I’m talking to Troy, general manager here at Firehouse Subs here on 86th Street.
And, they’re one of the first locations in Indiana to have Coke Freestyle.
Tell me a little about the experience, and what your customers think?
> Troy: Well, everyone seems to have a very good impression of the machine,
it’s very functional, it’s very neat and cutting-edge, with a touchscreen display
with all of the different flavors we can get out of it.
Everyone really likes, um, everyone has their favorite that they like to go to.
It’s been a really neat positive experience so far.
All four locations in Indiana have it, and all the new locations that will open will also get it.
It’s just a really neat thing to help set Firehouse Subs apart from everyone else,just one more thing to set us apart.
> Don Kincaid: What do your customers like about it?
> Troy: Well, they like to be able to go up there and get their favorite drink
in any sort of flavor, like strawberry Sprite, or peach Sprite,
the ability to just kinda of play with the flavors, and make their own drinks, even.
Just the functionality that it gives, is one of the, I would say,
one of the more positive aspects that we’re seeing from it.
> Don Kincaid: Cool. And it’s made a difference in your business?
> Troy: Oh yeah, absolutely.  We’ve seen a tremendous influx of business.
People coming in, wanting to check out the machine.
Just getting drinks, just to check out the machine.
It’s really great, it’s been really positive for us.
> Don Kincaid: Thanks, Troy.
> Troy: Hey, thank you very much.

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About donkincaid

Marketing | Customer Satisfaction Getting, Growing and Keeping Customers - Profitably www.linkedin.com/in/donkincaid
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9 Responses to Five Ways the Coca-Cola Freestyle® Machine is a Game Changer

  1. randy clark says:

    Thanks for the post and video. Wow, segmentation, personalization. I believe we’re seeing the future. I have to go check it out now!

  2. donkincaid says:

    Randy, I appreciate your thoughts. Look forward to your take after you check it out. I could see a future generation machine communicating via Bluetooth or near field communications with you to know your preferences and present a customized menu.

  3. Andy Welfle says:

    I would love to see how it works! I’ll go Google it.

    • donkincaid says:

      Andy, Thanks for the comment. The closest machine to Fort Wayne is Burger King in Warsaw. Fort Wayne gets one at the end of November when Firehouse Subs opens. Also all Five Guys will have them at some point.

  4. Impact 52 says:

    Don, Great post. The Freestyle is definitely a game changer for us at Coca-Cola. Our Burger King’s in the South Bend market have seen increased foot traffic in addition to very positive customer feedback. It is an exciting time for Coca-Cola. Thanks again!

    • donkincaid says:

      I appreciate the local feedback. I became fascinated with the machine when I first learned of David Butler. His work style is not stereotypical of designers. It’s high praise when he’s described as, “David is like your best secretary of state. His job is to bring multiple people to the table and set a new high bar. That’s what his work did.” Here’s his TEDxAtlanta talk on “Thinking Big.”

  5. Great post and great video Don! I hadn’t even heard of these machines yet. Keep up the good work.

    • donkincaid says:

      Rocky, Thanks for the kind words and your support in doing more video. All, Rocky is CEO of 12 Stars Media – a great, simple video editing service for companies. No, this wasn’t their work – it was my editing. They do better!

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