Coke’s popular Freestyle soda machines, which allow customers to custom mix their fountain drinks, have been a treasure trove of data for the company. For instance, they helped convince the company to release Cherry Fanta in stores (it had previously been a fountain-only soda) based on Freestyle’s feedback about its popularity.
The company is about to tap into another fruitful data set from people’s kitchens and workplaces: Its partner Keurig Green Mountain is launching a new cold drinks machine with similar data collection capabilities.
The new “Keurig Cold” machines, set to debut in 2015, will be able to make carbonated cold beverages, including many Coca-Cola products, and will share consumption data with Coca-Cola from consumers who opt in.
“We’ll know exactly — with the consumers’ permission, of course — what they’re drinking and when they drink it in their home,” Coke executive Deryck Van Rensburg told Businessweek. “Imagine what you can do with that.”
The Coca-Cola Co. is Keurig’s single largest shareholder, and the companies formed a joint venture in order to launch the product. Coke is hoping it will help inform its offerings on the new machines, and give a better sense of what products are resonating across the company.
If the partnership pays off, it could help reverse Coke’s declining soda sales as consumers have shifted to healthier diets. As a result, the company has been buying smaller brands and reducing large portion sizes held over from the 1980s and ’90s.
Keurig, which already dominates the coffee pod market, will benefit from Coke’s brand and distributional might. The question is what more data on a declining product can do for demand. Sales of Sodastream, which makes a competing home soda product (albeit without the data component), has had trouble consistently growing sales.