Coke Freestyle Dispenses Insights Along With Soft Drinks

Caffeine-Free Diet Coke Becomes a Top-Five Brand During Afternoons

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Coca-Cola Freestyle machines have been dispensing well over 100 combinations of carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks for more than three years. But beyond that, the data they're generating is a fountain of marketing knowledge helping the beverage giant shape product offerings for itself and its foodservice customers, said Jennifer Mann, VP-general manager of Coke Freestyle, at the Advertising Age Data Conference Oct. 29.

Coca-Cola freestyle vending
Coca-Cola freestyle vending

Freestyle machines have poured more than 5 billion servings and thousands of flavor permutations, Ms. Mann said. A related mobile app that allows people to name and save their favorite combinations and then have Freestyle machines automatically pour them has had more than a million downloads.

The dispenser is giving some new life to old brands. "Before Freestyle, Caffeine-Free Diet Coke was available in less than 1% of our dispensers in the U.S.," Ms. Mann said. "Now with Freestyle it's available in every dispenser, and it's become a top-five brand in the afternoon daypart. So there was a huge unmet demand we were able to fill."

While the top eight Coca-Cola brands tend to stay fairly consistent from restaurant to restaurant, there's considerable variations in the long tail of brands nine through 150, she said. That's leading chains such as Firehouse Subs to create their own customized co-branded drinks, she said.

In a video interview above, Ms. Mann discussed some of the data insights Freestyle is generating.

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