Coca-Cola will try out a new RFID-enabled self-service beverage dispenser this summer which, if successful, would create a speedy and cost-efficient format for the soft drink giant to test market new products. The Coke Freestyle, to be tested in fast food restaurants in Georgia, California, and Utah, offers customers up to 100 beverage choices and uses an RFID-based monitoring system to report preferences back to corporate headquarters.
The Freestyle dispenser holds 30 cartridges of flavorings for soda, juice, tea, and flavored waters that can be combined to make up to 100 combinations. Each cartridge bears an RFID tag, and the dispenser is equipped with an RFID reader. This system enables the machine to track what customers are drinking and in what quantity. The data is transmitted back to Coke’s data-processing headquarters in Atlanta, where reports are generated assessing the success of new drinks, regional preferences, and other marketing issues.
The Freestyle could become a much more efficient method of product development than Coke’s current model, which involves bottling and advertising new drinks that may struggle in the market for several years before cancellation. The system also can provide Coke customers who lease the machines with more accurate product inventories, along with insights into their own customer’s drinking habits, via a web-based information portal.
If the test run proves successful, Coke plans to roll out the machines nationwide, eventually placing them in tens of thousands of McDonald’s, Burger Kings and other fast food outlets.
Read more here.