Canadian Vending

Features Consumer Behaviour Trends
From the editor: Nov/Dec 2010

Vending 2.0


December 7, 2010
By Cam Wood


Topics

In a few short weeks, another year will be behind us, and the promise of fulfilled resolutions and a better outlook will lie ahead.

In a few short weeks, another year will be behind us, and the promise of fulfilled resolutions and a better outlook will lie ahead.

On personal and professional levels we will evaluate our successes and failures. Hopefully, we will also learn from both in order to extend our opportunities into new and exciting territory in the coming year.

For some time now, Canadian Vending been pushing the need for the vending industry to embrace change. There hasn’t been much choice, quite frankly. Many elements of our business have been met with an “adapt or die” mandate. We’ve lost ground because of consumer trends, political interference and economic hardships. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t also gained a new set of tools in the ever-changing business environment.

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This time, as we move through that annual retrospective, the landscape looks different. The mass market we once enjoyed has been replaced by today’s social media platform. The Internet allows some very specialized interests to form new web-based communities – communities that communicate, share ideas, news and opinions, and market among themselves with great success. Traditional marketing meant throwing the message out there with some broad demographics in mind. And while there is still a need for that, Web 2.0 allows savvy entrepreneurs to specialize and really drill down to get the word out.

It’s not a concept reserved for the younger generation. Social media allows us to tell our customers what is going on. Have you ever considered using a Twitter update to let people know that a certain machine/location/product has been restocked? How about tying that in with brief messages on the value of an OCS plan over out-of-office coffee road trips? Create “Twitter-friendy” zones around your machines to appeal to the social media types – is there value in having your customers use social media to inform you of what is needed at a location?

Blogging on significant changes in consumer tastes, or perhaps dispelling the media myths that surround vending, can put your specialized message out to your clients in your own words. It positions you, the vending operator, as the reliable, informed source over and above the talking heads in traditional media. How about offering blogging tips for cleaning that new coffee system, or advice on how to get maximum taste from the new blend you’ve left for your clients?

Maybe a Facebook fan page on that latest flavour, product, trend. Silly? More than 1.9 million Facebook users belong to a fan page for one specific chocolate bar; 19.5 million for one brand of soft drink. Your own suppliers have already seen the value.

Websites such as Facebook and Twitter are the new tools in business, not just random distractions your teenage son or daughter uses to close out communication at home. They are valid, proven and, more than anything else, necessary, in today’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Call it all part of Vending 2.0.


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