When Chris Hellmann first saw a
“I kept looking behind it to see where the rest of it was,” he recalled. “I was amazed by the fact that so much choice was packed into such a small footprint.”
Coca-Cola Freestyle – which reinvented the beverage fountain experience in 2009 by offering an unprecedented array of choices in a fun, interactive format – is continuing its innovation journey in 2018. 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 (Sprite Peach, anyone?).
More than 50,000
“When we introduced Freestyle, it was truly a disruptive innovation,” said Hellmann, vice president general manager,
Hellmann and his team are focused on using technology and consumer data to continually enhance the
“Choice and customization are not fads – they're here to stay,” he said. “So we're focused on making sure the
Coke will unveil the newest member of the Freestyle family – the
“We've built features into this dispenser that are not only contemporary for today,” Hellmann said. “We’ve also future-proofed the platform with not-yet-activated features like audio capability, optical sensors and a new equipment option that will eventually support the addition of drink categories not available on Freestyle today, such as teas, cold coffees and new varieties of juices.”
A new, agile
“Our brands are now presented in a way that's simple for consumers to navigate and find their favorite choice or try something new,” Hellmann said. “We want consumers to have a fun, contemporary experience, whether they're on the go and want a drink with a meal, or have a few moments to explore something new.”
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.
“Across all of the models of Freestyle we have in market today, our intent is to have one software system across the entire fleet that delivers increased benefits to our retail partners and to every consumer who interacts with the Freestyle platform,” Hellmann said.
The new operating system integrates with the
“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,” said Eric Lewis, marketing group director,
As recent examples, Wendy’s introduced a Freestyle-exclusive Dave’s Cherry Cream Soda (named after founder Dave Thomas), and Zaxby’s launched limited-edition Sprite and Mello Yello mixes for University of Georgia and Georgia Tech fans to enjoy during college football season. Both customers developed the new drinks and launched them into market in a matter of months.
Freestyle also lets restaurants pair menu items with new or existing drinks. Firehouse Subs recommends Cherry Coke with its Hook & Ladder turkey sandwich, and Burger King recently promoted the launch of its new crispy spicy chicken sandwich with the custom-made Sprite Lime Burst.