According to Coca-Cola's press release:
Coca-Cola North America today revealed that "Coca-Cola Freestyle™" is the brand name and logo for its new proprietary fountain dispenser entering market testing this summer. The fountain’s brand name captures its ability to deliver unprecedented beverage variety to suit any consumer taste -- all packaged in an innovative and interactive fountain experience.The particular exciting part of this story is the data side. The new dispenser helps Coca-Cola enhance its new product testing process and helps its retailers manage inventory. InformationWeek describes it here:
Coca-ColaFreestyle brings to life the refreshingly positive outlook that has always been associated with Coca-Cola," said Chandra Stephens-Albright, Senior Director of Marketing and Business Development for the brand. "It brings back the magic of the fountain of the past, re-imagines it for the future and then takes it a step farther by celebrating the idea that consumers can truly have their say at fountain -- with choices tailored completely for them."
The new self-serve fountains -- which represent a complete departure from equipment The
Coca-ColaCompany has offered before -- have been in development for nearly four years. The sleek new units being tested are touch screen operated, enabling consumers to select from more than 100 calorie and no-calorie brands – including varieties of waters, juices, teas and sparkling beverages that have never been sold in the United States.
Coca-ColaFreestyle dispenser uses proprietary PurePour Technology™ to make dozens of branded beverages fresh to order, in the same amount of space as the current eight-valve machine. It will be tested in select quick-serve restaurants in Orange County, Calif., and Atlanta this summer before a wider introduction currently planned for early next year.
Freestyle will let Coke more easily test new drink flavors and new beverage concepts, such as adding various vitamin combinations to flavored waters and juices. The dispensers each contain 30 cartridges of flavorings that mix up 100 different drink combinations. The cartridges are tagged with radio frequency ID chips, and each dispenser contains an RFID reader. The dispensers collect data on what customers are drinking and how much, and transmit that information each night over a private Verizon wireless network to Coke's SAP data warehouse system in Atlanta. The company will use the data to develop reports that assess how new drinks are doing in the market, identify differences in regional tastes, and help fast-food outlets decide which drinks to serve.Finally, here's a video by the mobile technology supplier that partnered with Coca-Cola.
Test marketing via Freestyle will be a lot cheaper than the model Coke's been using: bottling and bringing to market new products that sometimes don't gain traction and get canceled after a year or two. "This is a huge jump from our current fountain dispensers," says Christopher Dennis, Coke's IT director of e-business transformation. "It's like going from the dial phone to the BlackBerry."Besides collecting data on what customers are drinking, Freestyle also lets Coke know what flavor cartridges each dispenser holds, so the company can advise outlets on when to order more. Coke also will use the wireless network to send out new drink formulas to the beverage machines with instructions on how to mix them up. And should the soda company ever need to recall a flavor cartridge, the network also lets it instantly disable dispensers across the nation.
I suppose that pretty soon machines like these will have their own twitter accounts!