NEW YORK – Can a free-water machine become a blockbuster for Coca-Cola?
The world's largest soda manufacturer is testing a fountain that allows people to fill reusable water bottles with free, filtered water – but also offers the opportunity to pay to add bubbles and fruity aromas. It's an example of how the manufacturer of Fanta, Sprite and Powerade is looking for new ways to make money, as Americans are holding back on traditional sodas.
Coca-Cola is currently testing only one "Dasani Purefill" machine on the Georgia Tech campus, opposite its headquarters in Atlanta. It plans to roll out the test on 20 campus campuses in 1
The Concept: You can filter water for free or wipe a credit card to add bubbles or flavor for 5 cents per ounce, plus a 15 cent transaction fee. So filling a 20 ounce bottle with bubbles and flavor would cost $ 1.15
Sweeteners and other ingredients do not exist
The idea is in line with a trend that has no sales potential for coke (reusable water bottles) does (sparkling, flavored water like La Croix). If enforced, it would help Coca-Cola squeeze money out of an increasingly popular habit that might otherwise harm his business.
"If you have these gas stations on campus, there is a loss of transaction, a loss of interaction with your consumer," explains a Coca-Cola employee in a corporate video.
Water bottles and fountains designed to refill have become increasingly popular as people are increasingly looking for plastic pollution. Basin and faucet maker Elkay manufactures popular varieties of refill wells, but is not involved in the coke machine.
Arti Lyde, director of global drinking water at Elkay, said the refill wells first became popular on college campuses and spread to office buildings, airports and gyms
Mary Grant, campaign director at Food and Water Watch, said she was worried that the Dasani Purefill machine could be a way for Coke to advertise its Dasani bottled water products, which would be to the detriment of water bins. Food and Water Watch advocates drink tap water, claiming the environmental impact of bottled water
About a year ago, Coca-Cola began testing the Dasani Purefill machine. A representative from Georgia Tech says that the school does not receive any proceeds from the machine because it is a test.
According to Coca-Cola, people choose about 10 to 20 percent for blisters and taste. The company would not give any sales figures or other financial details about the machine.
It says the extended test this fall will see how much and how often people are willing to pay for bubbles and tastes. An app allows users to submit payments and keep track of how much water they drink. Kim Drucker, Director of Innovation at Coca-Cola North America, noted that the test consists of just one machine, but says the company sees a much wider potential.
"We were thrilled with how much engagement there was," Drucker said
For Coke and Pepsi, the growing popularity of water is a challenge. Even with ordinary bottled water – which both companies sell – profit margins are generally not as high as other beverages, because people are not as loyal to a particular brand of water and tend to buy the cheapest in bulk.
Thus, Coke and Pepsi push people into more expensive waters, such as those that come in stylized bottles and are marketed as specially filtered. Both have also jumped into the bubbling, flavored water trend; Coke said this week that "Dasani Sparkling" recorded double-digit sales growth.