While not strictly marketing-related, Coke's integration of contactless technology into its self-service soda fountains shows how mobile innovation is playing a role for brands as they look to address pandemic-related consumer anxieties.
Freestyle machines are offered at restaurants and entertainment venues that are among the categories hardest-hit by the pandemic, and represent the type of high-touch surfaces many people are looking to avoid for fear of contracting the virus. In the race to develop new safeguards that allay such concerns, contactless solutions — which for years struggled to take off meaningfully in the U.S. — are seeing increased consumer adoption and investments.
Whether the interest will stick around after the pandemic passes is an open question, but companies like Coke have the chance to lay a stronger foundation with the technology now, when demand is high, and as contactless solutions could play a crucial role in helping restaurant partners convince customers to come back into stores.
"We're excited to get these in market, see how consumers engage with them and adjust accordingly," Chris Hellmann, vice president and general manager of Coca-Cola Freestyle, said in a press statement around the news. "The technology and resource investments we've made have enabled us to be nimble and innovate quickly, proactively and with scale."