Vending Units Expand Selection

Apr 15, 2004

By George Anderson

Vending machines aren’t just for soda and snacks anymore. At least that’s what retailers and consumer goods manufacturers of products other than soda and snacks are counting

Target recently pulled the plug on its test placing a branded vending machine in the student union at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz., even though the one-year evaluation
period hadn’t ended.

That apparent setback, however, hasn’t kept others, including Staples, Banana Boat and Virgin Records, from seeking to expand the reach of their brands through vending units
placed outside stores and other high-traffic areas from airports to universities.

Joseph Preston, president of Vision Corp., which is working with Banana Boat told the Washington Post, “The brands themselves want to clearly differentiate themselves
from their competition, and they want to create more consumer touch points. The whole goal is to reach out to the consumer.”

Banana Boat has placed vending units selling its sunscreen in locations throughout south Florida, including airports, water parks, car rental locations and hotels.

Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on the vending unit tests being done by companies outside soda and snacks?
Do you see vending in America following the model of other countries, such as Japan, where a much wider selection of products are sold through vending units?

John Roughneen, vice president of strategic development for USA Technologies Inc. told the Washington Post, “It’s my feeling that it’s natural to
take well-known, brand-name items and dispense them closer to the point of use.”

We agree with Mr. Roughneen, and think marketers like Banana Boat are on the right track.

We don’t, however, ever see ourselves buying a pair of jeans through a vending unit as is done in Japan. Where would we return them to if they didn’t fit?
We’ll stick with our Double L’s from L.L. Bean.
Anderson – Moderator

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