My friend Stan Phelps turned me onto this little marketing innovation from Pepsi. It's actually pretty cool -- they've reinvented the vending machine and linked it to social media. Stan has got a great blog post on it here, called "Branded Acts of Kindess".
Pepsi is calling it Social Vending, and it's quite brilliant. Simple but brilliant. Not only can you buy a drink, but you can connect with a friend and also give back to the community. Does it get any better than that?
If you've read my book, you know that I am personally very loyal to Pepsi but my loyalty isn't what makes me love this idea. It's the simple mix of technology with current consumer behavior that has me so impressed. That and the ease of participation.
The Pepsi vending machine basically has a touchscreen on it with three choices: buy a beverage, gift a beverage, or connect with Pepsi Refresh (the brand's community outreach and charity program that I wrote about in a blog post here).
Buying a beverage is normal MOA for a vending machine. No magic here, except that the selections are all done on the touchscreen and are much more interactive.
Gifting is quite another another layer and I've never seen anything like it: by putting in an email address of a "friend", you can buy a beverage to send to them! The machine will send a promotional code that can be redeemed at another Pepsi Social Vending machine. Pretty cool. Plus notice that Pepsi gets the email addresses of two people now for further outreach. Guess what I am going to be doing when my daughter goes to college next semester!
The third option in Pepsi Social Vending is to connect with Pepsi Refresh and support those initiatives -- people helping people kinds of efforts. The brand has devoted a tremendous amount of resources to the program and this gives it another boost. By adding it as an option on their vending machines, the brand is making it even easier for consumers to participate in the massive effort.
Pepsi Social Vending. A really smart combination of marketing tools that puts the brand (on multiple levels) right within arm's reach of the consumer -- on a vending machine. Bravo!
Jim Joseph is an award-winning marketing professional who specializes in building consumer brands. His client experience includes blockbuster brands like Kellogg's, Kraft, Cadillac, Tylenol, Clean & Clear, and Wal-Mart. He is currently President of Lippe Taylor Brand Communications in New York.