CHICAGO -- The National Automatic Merchandising Association will take vending on the road this fall to showcase the industry's newest technology and products. The seven-city tour is part of the association's broader industry growth strategy, primarily aimed at building upon Generation Y's already strong affinity for using vending machines. | SEE STORY
Dubbed "The Gratitude Tour," the traveling exhibit is also a way for the vending industry to say "thank you" to loyal users of vending. Gen Y patrons, ages 18 to 29, were shown in recent research to prefer vending to convenience, grocery and drug stores for snacks and cold beverages.
Visitors to the mobile exhibit will have the opportunity to interact with the latest vending technology, running the gamut from touchscreen venders that offer on-the-spot nutrition information to machines that dispense fresh cotton candy, fruit or a hot bowl of soup.
The Gratitude Tour schedule is:
Sept. 12: Boston » Prudential Plaza, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sept. 15: New York City » South Street Seaport, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sept. 22: Atlanta » Centennial Park, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sept. 27: Austin, TX » 2nd and Congress, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Oct. 5: Phoenix » Westgate City Center (Glendale, AZ), 12 p.m.-6 p.m.
Oct. 11: Minneapolis » Peavey Plaza, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Oct. 13: Madison, WI » Union South at University of Wisconsin, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
NAMA representatives will be on hand to explaining to anticipated crowds of visitors how vending delivers what consumers want, where they want it, and when they want it. They will shine the spotlight on cashless payment, inform visitors that most contemporary machines come standard with technology that ensures a positive vend, and emphasize how vending is often a better value than grocery and convenience stores.
Twenty state-of-the art vending machines are being provided by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Starbucks/Seattle's Best, Kraft, VendEver Cotton Candy, Crane Merchandising Systems and U-Select-It. Unattended retail markets by Company Kitchen and Avanti Systems will be on display, and a vending payment technology exhibit by MEI. G&J Marketing, Vistar and Canteen Vending, are also participating in the Gratitude Tour.
"The days of digging for coins and waiting for your candy bar to drop into a bin are being replaced with a much more exciting, interactive experience," said NAMA executive vice-president and COO Dan Mathews. "We now have machines that look and act like giant iPads, offer on-the-spot nutrition information and dispense bananas without a single bruise on them. Plus, who could have predicted even a few years ago that we could get fresh-spun cotton candy from a machine untouched by human hands, or 'gift' a Pepsi to a friend who is miles away?"
Mathews says the future of vending can be seen in interactive vending equipment like the Diji-Touch, which features an embedded networked computer and 46" Samsung LCD touchscreen. It was developed by Kraft, Crane and Samsung. Another example of modern vending is Coke's Interactive Vender, which is wrapping up a yearlong field test. USI reportedly will be showing its interactive vender for the first time.
All vending products at each of the all-day events will be free, and visitors will be treated to other giveaways and live entertainment. Leading consumer product suppliers supporting the Gratitude Tour include PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Mars, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Dole and Hershey's, along with Kellogg's, Snyder's-Lance, Jack Links, General Mills, Cadbury, Pepperidge Farm, Nestlé and AdvancePierre Foods, among other food manufacturers.
Tour-goers can also stop by the social media tent where they can enter NAMA's Vend.Love.Win. Facebook contest, which launched on Aug. 2, to win cash prizes. | SEE STORY