Coca-Cola Freestyle Tests in Toronto
Coca-Cola’s Freestyle fountain unit that contains over 100 stand-alone flavours of beverages has recently started piloting in Canada at select fast food and entertainment establishments.
Wait a minute, I’m a grocery retailer and that’s fast food and entertainment venues, why does this news apply to me?
Although those are different channels, it’s important to note the learnings are more crucial to grocery retailers than any other group. The Freestyle can dramatically impact the retailer’s shelf space and product assortment in the near future.
First, a little information about Coca-Cola’s Freestyle unit. The fountain unit contains small beverage cartridges, is touch screen, and contains micro-dispensing technology adapted from the pharmaceutical industry.
The small cartridges are the individual flavours, while the touchscreen is the interface that patrons interact with for the machine. The technology showcases the Freestyle’s precision at mixing different flavours selected by the consumer.
Coca-Cola also collects data information from the flavours consumers select and can use this to determine which combinations are most popular.
This is where the grocery channel importance comes into effect. Popular flavours that are customized by consumers and not produced as stand-alone beverage options have higher odds of being developed into bottles and cans, and in turn listed in grocery stores.
Research may indicate that since these flavours are customized often by consumers, there is potential beyond simply being a fountain beverage offering. Be ready for your beverage contact pitching for more shelf space, for a product that shows strong success in the immediate consumption channel.
No grocery retailer wants to be dominated by one manufacturer (in this case, Coca-Cola), so this makes the retail buyer’s job that much more critical. The implication for the decision maker is to work harder at managing their shelf space.
While this may ultimately translate to stronger category sales, it could also change the shelf representation of the two beverage manufacturers in the retail environment.
Not to fear, because Pepsi may also has their own 100+ beverage fountain unit in development. If that’s the case, then get ready for even more competition in the beverage aisle.