Category Archives: Research

Best Vending Machine Products Of The Year

The winners of the Automatic Merchandiser’s Readers Choice Awardsawards_product for “Products of the Year” were recently announced in a number of categories. Winners for new products of the year include:

  • Cookie category – LLC’s RUGER® Strawberry Wafers
  • Candy category – DOVE® Silky Smooth Cookies and Creme bar
  • Food category – Pierre Drive Thru Deluxe sandwich
  • Snack category – Kellogg’s Special K® Cracker Chips
  • Cold beverage category – Nestlé Sweet Leaf Tea
  • Hot beverage category – Barista Prima Coffeehouse® Vanilla Latte Café Beverage
  • Pastry category – Mrs. Freshley’s Cinnabon® Honey Bun

Learn the winners of micro markets, all-natural healthy, and OCS categories at VendingMarketWatch

US Consumers Eat Snacks Not Meals

The Hartman group has completed a recent consumer survey on eating habits and found that among US consumers in 2012, more than half of all eating occasions were snacks on a daily basis.

More consumers said they considered eating smaller meals more frequently to be healthier and that snacking helps to bridge the gap between meals.

Although most said snacks need to be healthy, chips and soda topped the list for consumers who snack.

If you are in the consumer snacks business, how have you found this research to pan out in your business?

Learn more: Survey: Consumers Snack More Than They Dine

Power Shifting Energy Saving Vending Machine

Coca Cola Japan has announced what they call the peak shift vending machine. It shifts the use of power from the peak daytime hours to the nighttime to reduce the strain on the power supply. In the summer, the machines can produce cooled products for 16 hours and at the same time reduce daytime power consumption by 95%.

Pretty impressive. This machine hasn’t launched yet and it’s unclear whether Coca-Cola will bring this technology to the US.

Read more:

Consumers Will Pay More For Higher-Quality Breakfast Products

The latest research from Mintel on the breakfast food market in the US shows:

  • Consumers consider low cholesterol or heart healthy claims important
  • Consumers think low-fat and high-fiber attributes are important when choosing products
  • Consumers are willing to spend more on better quality pre-packaged breakfast foods

The breakfast foods category has experienced solid growth during the recession and is forecast to continue to grow by 26% through 2017.

Read more: Most Consumers Will Spend More On ‘Healthy’ Breakfast Foods, Reports Mintel

The Snack Bar Market Is UP

According to a report by Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group, the US market for snack bars has more than doubled to almost $6 billion over the past decade. “Snack bars have found broad appeal among a large consumer base that ranges from athletes to couch potatoes, from working mothers to professionals on the go.”

Many factors have contributed to the growth of the snack bar category:

  • Multi-purpose appeal of snack bars to a broad range of consumers
  • A trend toward increased snacking between meals
  • Broad retail distribution in convenience stores

According to the report there’s room for more growth in the snack bar category based on the consumer trend toward convenience, portability, health and wellness.

Read more: Snack bar growth shows no signs of slowing

The Youth Market and Vending Machines

Food and Drink Digital interviewed Michael L. Kasavana, Ph.D., who is a NAMA-endowed professor at Michigan State University’s School of Hospitality Business on the topic of the youth market.

Kasavana says a major trend is enhancement of the consumer interface and for vending machines that means a more interactive transaction – one that youth who shop and play games online are used to including payment options available online. “Why can’t you do that at a vending machine?”

Another trend is the products being sold are no longer traditional, but moving toward non-traditional items like energy drinks, trail mixes, things perceived to be more healthy.

Also product information like nutritional content. The younger generation is watching what they eat. Vending machine manufacturers will soon be required to project the food manufacturer’s nutrition label like you see on most packages.

Read more: Capturing the Youth Market with Vending Machines

USA Technologies ePortConnect Service Platform Is Open to Developers

USA Technologies is making available an interface to their USA Technologiescomprehensive ePortConnect service platform for developers and OEMs: QuickConnect.

Some of reasons developers and manufacturers are expected to use QuickConnect include:

  • Programmers can implement the API web service in their code, reducing certification cycle time and speeding up time to market
  • Device machine manufacturers that desire a turnkey solution for enabling a connection to USAT’s comprehensive ePort Connect service independent of card reading hardware
  • Developers of mobile applications requiring a turnkey solution for cashless payment services; and, other developers of unattended devices, such as kiosks, that require an easily deployed cashless option

Read more: USA Technologies Inc. Adds Web Services To Its Technology Portfolio

How Vending Operators Can Leverage Technology

Vending Operator- Vending MachineHow Vending Operators Can Leverage Technology

Are you curious how you, the vending operator, can leverage technology into your vending business?  There was standing room only at the 2012 NAMA OneShow in Las Vegas to hear the four panelists explain where things are going.

Chuck Reed, of MEI: “If your machines can take only $1 bills, you’re missing sales.” Currently, cash is used for 50% of small transactions; debit and credit combined represent about 30%. “You can’t force a patron to use one or the other.”

MEI is the industry leader in providing bill recyclers, a device that accepts larger bill denominations and utilizes $1 bills to replenish a reserve. Studies have shown that bill recyclers increase sales per vending machine.

Anant Agrawal of Cantaloupe Systems: “The Cantaloupe Systems principal envisions a not-so-distant future in which someone can tell his or her smartphone, ‘I want a Mountain Dew,’ and the instrument will display vending machines and other retail outlets in the vicinity. The thirsty consumer will go to the nearest machine, tap the phone on the card reader, and receive the drink — plus loyalty points and a discount on a Frito-Lay snack.” All this new technology will make it easier for the vending operator.

Michael Lawlor of USA Technologies: USA Technologies maintains a knowledge base that keeps track of overall card sales through ePort-equipped vending machines. Michael said 21% of card sales were for products costing less than $1, and 34% for items priced above $2. He recommends that operators need to raise vend prices, he predicted that consumers are more likely to choose the cashless option for higher-ticket sales if that option is available to them.

Chris Lilly of Best Vendors and chairs NAMA’s Vending Data Interchange Committee: “Most of you are not software engineers,” Lilly said, “but you want your systems to work together, to pass ‘messages’ back and forth.” The VDI standards describe protocols for those systems.

Read more: Leveraging Technology – Part 2: Cashless Options Multiply, Interoperability Advances

Cashless Vending: One Operator Explains Their Approach

As a new comer to cashless, you’re company must have decided to wait before making this investment. Why did you wait to get into cashless until this year?

Were you getting requests from customers to have cashless?

Did you develop a plan before making this investment?

How did you decide which machines to equip with cashless capability?

Did that include hot beverage machines too?

Listen to the podcast at Vending Market Watch as Lisa Leuchter of SnackWorks, Inc shares answers and their experience.

The Vending Industry Will Soon Be Known For Nutrition

U.S. Schools have been fighting obesity for six years now despite the financial hardship it has brought on and the vending industry has supported this cause – one example is NAMA’s Fit Pick program.

These wellness issues have been difficult for vending operators to deal with but necessary for long-term planning and changing consumer perception of vending.

The US Department of Agriculture is pressing for new rules for vending machines under the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs.  Vending operators would do well to lead the charge in consumer perceptions of vending, rather than following it.

Read the full story: Nutrition Rules Hurt Short Term, But Ultimately Help Improve Vending’s Public Image