Millennials are renowned for their love of personalized options, and they also desire real-life experiences outside their digital lives. Here’s how two beverage brands have crafted market strategies to appeal to these Millennial preferences.
Coca-Cola Freestyle: Two Billion Beverages Served
In 2010, the world’s largest beverage company, with 20 brands that produce over $1 billion in annual sales, released a new brand: Coca-Cola Freestyle. This self-serve beverage dispenser allows consumers to easily choose from over 100 beverage combinations, including low-calorie and no-calorie options.
There are currently more than 20,000 Freestyle dispensers in 150 cities, dispensing about 1.8 billion beverage servings each year.
Millennial praise for Coca-Cola Freestyle is enthusiastic and comes from a perspective of valuing uniqueness:
“Seeing the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine raises the class of the place that offers it. My ego can get wrapped up in that it’s just for me. I know I’m getting an option that’s just for me. Vanilla Cherry Coke isn’t a common flavor, and you can’t get that in the store, but if I like it, even if it is a weird flavor, I can get it. The machine is great!”
Coca-Cola’s own research supports this Millennial’s take on the brand:
“Customers who have adopted Coca-Cola Freestyle are reporting double-digit increases in beverage servings. Research also shows that 80 percent of people have a more positive perception of the customer’s brand when Coca-Cola Freestyle is present, and nearly two-thirds of people say the availability of the dispenser impacts their choice to visit a restaurant.”
Millennials Line Up for the Chance to Make-Your-Own Milkshakes and Smoothies
At the other end of the beverage spectrum is a comparative newcomer, which started in founder Jim Farrell’s garage in 1998. The heart of the F’real brand is a milkshake machine where consumers blend their own fresh milkshakes, smoothies and frozen cappuccinos, in a personalized, fun experience.
These “magical milkshake machines” can be found in over 13,000 locations, primarily at convenience stores and colleges. This innovative product offers more than a dozen flavors, has three thickness options and is 100% self-cleaning through steam sanitizing cycles.
College student Taylor Hassa writes in The Springfield Student:
“A long line of students trails out the door of the Union Station in the Richard B. Flynn Campus Union. This line is not for the mouthwatering burgers or the delicious pizza, but for a cooler, more delectable treat. Springfield College has been introduced to a F’real milkshake machine. It has everyone on campus talking because it is so simple to use and creates the most delicious dessert.”
F’real continues to innovate in delivering experiences, as described by VP of Marketing Stephanie Brendel:
“In over 3,000 stores, our newest model has a touch-screen on it that plays videos to attract consumers' attention, to explain the brand, how to use the machine, etc.”
It’s interesting to see how these two beverage brands are responding to Millennials’ desire for tactile experiences and ‘bespoke’-feeling options. Even in the seemingly straightforward realm of self-serve beverages, there is room for radical innovation and creativity to win market share and loyalty.