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Coca-Cola may never totally outlive its failed New Coke product introduction, but its latest innovation, the Freestyle machine, seems like a good step in that direction. With this introduction, Coke has set out to reinvent the fountain experience and give customers more choice. The result has been a product success for all stakeholders.

For consumers, the Freestyle vending machines offer access to any combination of caffeine, flavor, and calories they prefer. For example, there are 90 different caffeine-free options on every machine!

For supply chain partners, such as restaurants and convenience stores, the Freestyle machines offer high-tech capabilities. Computer software connects every machine to a global supply chain, which enables immediate replenishment and the virtual elimination of out-of-stock situations. It also gives them a new revenue stream.

For Coca-Cola, the Freestyle software tracks exactly what was ordered on each machine. It thus not only knows what machines to refill but also learns about which products customers prefer in which markets. It then can target its advertising ever more precisely, based on totally accurate preference information that the consumers provide themselves.

For society as a whole, Freestyle machines embody Coca-Cola’s “Live Positively” slogan. The cartridges in the machines are LEED gold certified. The syrup that goes into beverages poured from the Freestyle machine is highly concentrated, which makes the product 30 percent less bulky than bottled beverages. The outcomes include not just cost savings on shipping for the supply chain but also a reduction in its environmental footprint.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is so innovative about the Freestyle machine?

“Coca-Cola Freestyle, Best Global Brands 2011,” Interbrand, 2011.

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