About a month ago I detailed Coca-Cola’s futuristic fountain machine named “Freestyle”, in which you can mix and match your own beverage flavors to create your own custom soda (link here). In that piece I also wrote that it would be interesting to see what Pepsi’s response would be and BevReview came through with a piece on Pepsi’s own futuristic fountain unit that can provide over 100 beverage flavors for the user (read the post here).
However, since BevReview has already wrote about what the competition has done, I decided to take a different approach on the Coca-Cola Freestyle update. BevWire has been following the Coca-Cola Freestyle twitter feed (@ccfreestyle) for a few weeks and noticed that they tweeted about having an smartphone app on which you can play with the Coca-Cola Freestyle function (see Facebook page here). This YouTube video provides a good introduction on how the app’s functions work.
This may not be ground-breaking news, but it shows Coca-Cola making use of social and mobile tools to connect with the consumer. Compared to the traditional Foursquare check-ins and Facebook likes, this app is somewhat revolutionary in the sense that it demands strong audience engagement. The application not only allows the user to find out where their closest Freestyle fountain unit is, but also play memory games with the available Coca-Cola beverage options.
This is quite a smart way to get the mobile user excited about the Freestyle machine. Not only does the iPhone/Android user get to learn about different Coca-Cola beverage flavors and company history, it also creates demand (marketing term = consumer pull) for the unit itself. Educating users to differentiate Coca-Cola products from Pepsi products will also go a long way to help the two refreshment giants gain loyalists to their beverage portfolios. The location function will provide insights into which cities to launch the machine next, by virtue of people that downloaded the app in cities where the Freestyle is not yet found. And the fact that smartphone app is a touchscreen-based app, similar to the touchscreen functionality of the Freestyle also helps in getting users accustomed on how to use the Freestyle fountain machine when it does become available in their area.
In theory, this is a very cost-effective way to get the consumer excited about Coca-Cola’s Freestyle machine. It’s also important to note that the smartphone user population is only about 30% of the total U.S. mobile user population (link here). It’s further segmented that about 50% of the smartphone users might be interested in the Freestyle app, specifically users that are ages 18-34, and a lesser extend the 35-49 age group. This means that the reach is much smaller than it really could be, but given the small cost associated with the app it should be very efficient.
The other limitation is that this app is only a U.S.-based smartphone application – I’ve been trying to download it from the Apple iTunes store but am kicked out because my AppleID indicates that I’m in Canada. I’m still working on connecting with a friend that lives in the U.S. to let me use their AppleID to get this app and test it out. Readers that live in the states or have friends that are willing to share their ID with you, feel free to test the app out and let me know how you like it!