The newest iteration of the Coca-Cola Freestyle fountain dispenser is delighting more than restaurant owners and thirsty fans. Coca-Cola Freestyle 9100 is drawing praise from industry groups, taking home a trio of innovation and design awards in recent weeks.
Beverage Digest named Coca-Cola Freestyle 9100 Best Technology Innovation for 2018. "FS9100 offers the highest-quality beverages to consumers with the choices they expect and an engaging experience,” the industry publication writes. “The new dispenser includes: artificial intelligence, real-time cloud connectivity, large high-definition screen with a dual display, optical and motion sensors, Bluetooth technology and more beverage options to choose from."
The dispenser also won an iF (Industrie Forum) Design Award and Good Design Award, both considered to be among the world’s most prestigious design excellence programs.
“These awards validate both the exceptional design of Coca-Cola Freestyle 9100, which brings to life the brand’s heritage with a modern ‘wow’ factor, and our leadership and innovation in the dispensed beverage category,” said Eric Lewis, group marketing director, Coca-Cola Freestyle.
Coca-Cola Freestyle 9100 was recognized not only for its striking visual quality, but also for the way it communicates the company’s brands through a fresh take on a century-long heritage of design the team calls "contemporary nostalgia," explains Damian Mycroft, senior director, industrial design and user experience, Coca-Cola Freestyle.
Usability drove all elements of the Coca-Cola Freestyle 9100 design. A new operating system includes a revamped touchscreen menu designed to make it easier and faster for users to find the beverages they want.
"These awards show how The Coca-Cola Company can accomplish excellence of execution across all touchpoints – from the formulation, marketing, distribution and packaging of our beverages, all the way through to the point of dispense – continuing to build the deep relationships our customers and consumers have with our brands," Mycroft said.
Coke unveiled the Coca-Cola Freestyle 9100 in May 2018 at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) tradeshow in Chicago. The unit, which will be available nationally in 2019, features a 24-inch, high-definition touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity, which lets fans connect to the Coca-Cola Freestyle mobile app when they enter an outlet with a machine and cue up their favorite beverage or create a new mix.
In addition to the next-generation machine, the team plans to push the new Freestyle operating system to all dispensers in the market to deliver new benefits to existing customers, including access to a diagnostics dashboard with real-time drink inventory levels. The new OS integrates with the Coca-Cola Freestyle content management system (CMS) introduced last year. The system lets restaurants quickly launch exclusive Freestyle beverages and on-dispenser promotions. “We’re making it easier for our customers not just to operate their Freestyle machine, but also to use it as a flexible marketing asset,” Lewis said.
Chris Hellmann, vice president general manager, Coca-Cola Freestyle, said his team is using technology and consumer data to continually enhance the Freestyle experience through innovation in both new equipment and in the software that powers the existing fleet.
“Choice and customization are not fads – they're here to stay,” he said, adding that Coca-Cola Freestyle-exclusive flavors of Diet Coke and Sprite will launch in the coming weeks. “So we're focused on constantly growing and retaining our consumer base by improving and contemporizing our technology.”
A Gamechanger Since 2009
Coca-Cola Freestyle reinvented the beverage fountain experience in 2009 by offering an unprecedented array of choices in a fun, interactive format. The touchscreen-operated dispenser uses “micro-dosing” technology to deliver nearly 200 drink options – including 117 low/no-calorie beverages and more than 100 varieties that can’t be found anywhere else.
More than 50,000 Coca-Cola Freestyle units pour 14 million drinks per day in restaurants, cinemas, convenience stores, amusement parks and other locations across the United States and a handful of other countries.
The Freestyle team also continues to look for ways to use the innovative platform to support sustainability priorities, such as efforts to reduce packaging waste. Refillable cups, equipped with micro-chipped, ValidFill® radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, have recently been introduced for use with Coca-Cola Freestyle machines via a variety of universities, cruise lines and theme parks. These refillable cups directly interact with Coca-Cola Freestyle, conveniently providing preset pours of favorite beverages and new tastes.
Additionally, Coca-Cola Freestyle SmartPAK™ cartridges have a smaller carbon footprint than traditional syrup packaging, are manufactured in a Gold LEED certified facility with renewable power and water conservation technology, and contain 15-30% recycled content.