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Coca-Cola Freestyle is revolutionizing soda fountain machines by letting consumers mix up to 125 different flavors of soft drinks, waters, lemonades and sports drinks. Though the machine was first launched three years ago, it’s set to reach critical mass in 2012—which is why Coca Cola is launching mobile marketing and social apps to coincide with Freestyle. Their new vending concept is quite inspiring for mobile design strategies – it also shifts consumer loyalty from the QSR chain that contains the Freestyle to the Freestyle itself.coke freestyle Mobile Design Strategies Inspired by Coke Freestyle

What’s most significant about Freestyle’s technology is that while consumers are mixing, the machine gathers data about consumer preferences and relays it back to Coca Cola, enabling the company to understand which flavors are most popular at particular times of the day. In this sense, Freestyle works much like a successful mobile marketing app. It gathers information from consumers while offering value to that consumer.

According to an article in AdAge, the limited number of Freestyle machines out there has already been highly successful at driving foot traffic and increasing in-store sales by 20-30%. The article also states that “more than 20% of consumers said they would be very likely to switch restaurants or convenience stores due to the presence of Freestyle”. This is extremely significant if Coca Cola manages to pull it off.

If the consumer experience is strong enough, consumer desire can be shifted from the fast food chain to the vending experience. For example, if Coke is doing a better job of reaching the customer via mobile, the customer will likely choose a location with a Freestyle instead of the food itself. In other words, it may not be an issue of “Do I want a burger, pizza, or taco” but “where can I get my Freestyle”?

By combining new vending technolgies with mobile design strategies, Coca Cola and other companies can harness the immediacy of mobile to further consumer interaction with their own products.

Mobile design ideas & strategies inspired by Coke’s Freestyle:

  • When using Freestyle, let users ‘check in’ on their mobile phones so you can build up preferences over time.
  • Offer random free extras like a coupon for a free drink or a size upgrade when using the machine.
  • Give reward points and let users redeem those points through their mobile phones.
  • Rather than conduct A/B testing for new flavors, rotate new flavors to avoid bias and see what people respond to best.
  • Create partner or restaurant chain promotions and see which ones work best.
  • Test promotions then target specific mobile customers based on your data. This will boost your marketing success.
  • Offer free gifts like drinks and size upgrades on special occasions. For example: “Happy birthday! Have a Coke on us.”
  • Track specific individual preferences to custom tailor offers. For example, if you know a user prefers Sprite and onion rings, send him a deal for a burger, onion rings, and a Sprite.
  • Enable consumers to find a nearby machine, access their reward points, and check their latest offers

In sum, people will be loyal to the vending machine itself. A successful mobile design strategy enhances the experience by allowing consumers to share favorites, check reward points, get offers, and find a machine. These tips go for Coca Cola and any company venturing into the world of mobile marketing apps.

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