Coke Launches Create-Your-Own-Soda Machines

Coca-Cola Freestyle vending machine

Ever dreamed of being such a regular at your local dive that they name a drink after you?  Even if you’re still a few highballs short of such a status, Coca-Cola’s new marketing campaign will let you live out that dream (in soft form, at any rate).  In August, the company launched Facebook and mobile apps for avid soda-drinkers to mix and name their own beverages, but sugar addicts, fear not — Coke also took the necessary steps to make sure your custom pop is more than just a virtual refreshment.

Though they were first tested in 2009, the company is just now installing touch-screen vending machines nationwide.  The Freestyle machine offers 125 soda, flavored water, and sports drink options, along with the choice to just make up your own beverage.  Coca-Cola will eventually integrate the Freestyle machines with their customizable-drink apps to let consumers mix flavors and download relevant bar codes in advance.  When a code is scanned, the Freestyle will automatically dispense the personalized beverage.

Beyond cutting down on a lot of customer hemming and hawing at the vending machine, the eventual mobile app-Freestyle integration should provide a data boon to Coca-Cola itself.  After all, the campaign isn’t just meant for sugary fun — all the information it collects on consumers’ taste preferences and general activity is sent back to the company’s headquarters in Atlanta.  It’s hard (and a little terrifying) to envision what official new Coke flavors this might yield, but in the meantime, the company deserves credit for setting up a system to give consumers exactly what they want.