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Maryland's Black Tie Services Sees Strong Results In Hello Goodness Test Run

Posted On: 10/5/2016

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TAGS: vending, Black Tie Services, Scott Meskin, PepsiCo, Hello Goodness, Hello Goodness vending machines, healthy vending program, Frito-Lay, Quaker whole-grain chocolate chip cookies

BALTIMORE -- Scott Meskin of Black Tie Services Inc. piloted the first four dozen Hello Goodness machines in the Baltimore market beginning last April. The operator says he has the data to prove he is reaching a new segment of consumers that he was unable to achieve with previous attempts with his own vending machines dedicated to "healthy" products.

Meskin told VT that he used dual-temperature machines and professionally customized them with colorful fruit and vegetable graphics, and merchandised them with similar types of products to PepsiCo's Hello Goodness program, with modest success at best. He replaced a dozen of them with Hello Goodness machines for the pilot and says revenue increased 100% while unit sales spiked 65%.

Initially, the Maryland operator planned to target only larger public locations like colleges and hospitals, but PepsiCo encouraged him to think outside the box. So he tested the machines in business and industry and public locations of all types, both blue- and white-collar.

"The response was staggering," Meskin said. "We had trouble keeping the machines filled. In the beginning, I couldn't imagine we'd do great with Quaker oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and now they're one of our bestsellers. We had trouble selling Naked juice in the past with our own healthy vending machines and now it's a top-selling product."

vending, Black Tie Services, Scott Meskin, PepsiCo, Hello Goodness
ALL SYSTEMS GO: Black Tie Services' Scott Meskin piloted the first four dozen Hello Goodness machines in the Baltimore market. The vending operator provided feedback that helped PepsiCo refine the program, including a name change from the original "Goodness Inside" tagline shown here.

Meskin credits much of Hello Goodness's success to PepsiCo's expertise at category management. "They are experts in determining which products complement others, and why it all goes well together. We saw incredible results when we replaced our machines with theirs," he remarked. "We were selling Lay's baked chips and Naked drinks, but now they are doing so much better in the Hello Goodness package. Hello Goodness is a perfect combination of aesthetics and a diversity of nationally branded products offered in every category."

Black Tie also has seen a 2% to 4% lift in sales in its existing snack and beverage machines in venues in which it added Hello Goodness machines to the equipment bank, Meskin reported. Hello Goodness sales have all been incremental, suggesting that the machines might be attracting new customers who never used to visit the vending area.

"In locations with 100 blue-collar workers and 50 office workers upstairs, the office workers are now coming down to use the machines," Meskin instanced. "The sales lift on the existing machines we had there shows that new people are probably first coming for healthy, but then also buying the more indulgent snacks and drinks that have always been there."

Meskin's success with the Quaker whole-grain chocolate chip cookies in the Hello Goodness machines inspired him to add the item to the pastry spiral in the "healthy" column on the right side of his standard machine planogram. "We devote 25% of most machines to healthy products, and always struggled with what to put in the pastry column, but the cookies are doing very well," he said.

Another notable trend is that Black Tie typically sees credit cards accounting for 20% to 30% of machine sales, compared with 50% to 60% of sales on Hello Goodness machines. This indicates consumers patronizing the Hello Goodness venders are willing to pay more for items like Naked Juice that costs $3.50 with the swipe or tap of a card, Meskin said, or that it's a demographic less likely to carry cash.

"The program works everywhere -- blue, white and pink collar, nursing homes," the operator noted. "I've found a good fit for them in locations with two snack machines in the same bank. I pull one out and see a lift in sales on the existing machine." Black Tie also has also found success installing Hello Goodness machines in place of underperforming refrigerated food machines.

Black Tie now has 175 Hello Goodness machines in the field, and Meskin said he is continuing to deploy more.

SEE ALSO:

PepsiCo's Newest Vending Initiative Delivers 'Healthy' Snacks And Drinks At Scale