Article

Jamie-Leigh James
Jamie-Leigh James 22 December 2020

How To Turn Vending Machines Into Marketing Tools

Marketing is essentially the art and science of getting the word out about your products. There are lots of ways you can do this. One of them is to put vending machines in places you couldn’t feasibly have a full retail presence. Even if people don’t buy at the time, they may investigate your products later.

There have been some genius marketing campaigns using vending machines, from your popular Japanese suit vending machines to current mask vending machines, you may be looking to jump onto the trend.

Some of these are way beyond the capabilities of the average small business. Many, however, could be adapted, or could at least be used for inspiration. With that in mind, here are some ideas about how you could use a vending machine to boost your business.

Expand Your Reach

Marketing is essentially the art and science of getting the word out about your products. There are lots of ways you can do this. One of them is to put vending machines in places you couldn’t feasibly have a full retail presence. Even if people don’t buy at the time, they may investigate your products later.

It's also key to understand your market when incorporating vending machines into your marketing strategy. Understanding what's relevant, trending or needed in today's society will give you an extra step against the competition as it shows you considered your consumer and what they want.

Make Your Vending Machine Represent Your Brand

Benefit, Coca Cola and M&Ms are all brands which do this extremely well. All three brands have vending machines in bright colours (pink, red and yellow/multi respectively). This means that they are practically guaranteed to stand out wherever they are.

What’s more, using vending machines allows brands to ensure that their products are corralled together in a layout of their choosing. This increases visibility even further and may prompt impulse purchases. These are much more likely with vending machines than they are with online sales due to the element of instant gratification.

Offer Something for Free

Everyone loves getting something for free and there are lots of ways you can make use of this for marketing. At a basic level, you can just give away free samples. You don’t need to use the whole vending machine for this. You might just have one selection available for free or for free with a purchase.

Alternatively, you can offer customers the opportunity to get something for free if they do something for you. Larger brands have produced some really inventive spins on this. For example, Facebook used vending machines to give away free gifts in exchange for Facebook likes.

This is probably a bit too complex for smaller brands, but, as inspiration, Kellogg’s created a vending machine which priced items according to the weather. If it was bad, it dispensed Vitamin-D-rich cereal for free, but if it was good, you had to pay.

Use Vending Machines to Send People to Your Website

The big brands have tried incorporating vending machines into traditional outdoor display adverts. For example, Walkers had a digital advert which dispensed free samples. It will probably be some time before smaller brands can do this. The more budget-friendly alternative, however, is to turn the idea on its head.

Use your vending machine to display promotional material and make sure it’s both fun and smartphone friendly. You’ll obviously need a bit of vending-machine real-estate to do this, but most vending machines have some free space on them. Just above the selection pad is likely to be the best place.

This will probably force you to compress your message into a very small space. That, however, is where the smartphone-friendliness comes in. All you really need to do is make customers aware that there’s something they really want to see and use a QR code and/or web address to guide them to it.

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