CPG Brands Reimagine Vending Machines

The pandemic has really accelerated the push towards grocery ecommerce, with online sales growing by as much as 53% in 2020. With consumers spending less time in physical stores, CPG brands across all categories are reimagining what the future of in-person shopper journeys could look like. One format that is getting a lot of interest from brand leaders has actually been around for decades: vending machines. New developments in vending machine innovations and trends are providing interesting opportunities to connect with shoppers, and they could play a big role in reaching consumers offline post-pandemic.


Brands Prepare to Meet Consumers Where They Are

It’s important for brands not to lose sight of consumers’ out-of-home habits. While they might make fewer and shorter grocery store trips, shoppers will be eager to spend time outside of their homes once the pandemic winds down. Gyms, hotels, coworking offices (an important space to watch as many companies make a permanent shift to remote work), college campuses, etc. are all great opportunities for CPG brands to get in front of consumers with products that they need in the immediate moment.

For example, one of the most interesting companies present at this year’s Groceryshop conference was Vengo Labs, a technology firm that is innovating interactive digital vending machines. By providing commercial opportunities at “unattended retail space,” they help brands fit seamlessly into consumers’ lifestyles. Because these types of machines use digital screens, they create opportunities to promote new products, offer details about sales or loyalty programs, and can even capture consumer information in order to follow up with them and drive future sales.


CPG Brands Outside of Food and Beverage Shouldn’t Write Off Vending Machines

Although vending machines are traditionally associated with snacks and bottled or canned beverages, trends in vending machine technology offer many new opportunities to CPG brands in categories that may have never considered investing in this format.

For instance, fashion brands can sell clothing through vending machines at airports. Tech companies could sell laptop chargers to college students through vending machines on campus. Beauty brands could provide travel-sized versions of their products through vending machines at hotels. There are limitless possibilities, and because these vending machines offer immediate product solutions that fit into the needs of the consumer’s environment, they are even more convenient than ecommerce.

Vending machines have been around for decades, but new innovations in this space mean that brands should reimagine the possibilities that this sales format has to offer. By seeing any space as an opportunity for retail transactions, CPG brands can recapture some of the losses that are attributed to a shift towards ecommerce. They can also grow visibility for new promotions or products, and, most importantly, they can build loyalty with shoppers by meeting them where they are with the exact product that they need.

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