That's right, PepsiCo is trying to make drink-buying a "social" (in the "social media" sense of the word) experience. Pepsi's new Social Vending Machines, which debuted at this past week's National Automatic Merchandising Association's One Show in Chicago, feature touchscreen interfaces and the ability to "gift" a drink to a friend--or even a stranger, as a "random act of refreshment." Check it out:
Even buying a drink is more interactive, because you can swipe through choices and read nutritional info on the spot. The real "social" aspect of this vending machine is, of course, the ability to gift drinks to friends. Just tap the "Gift a Drink" button, enter in your info, choose a drink, and record an optional video message. Then enter in your friend's info, and they'll receive a text message with a code to redeem your drink at another sociable machine.
What's unclear is how -- and if -- you pay for the gifted drinks. From what I've read, it seems like this gift is free. In fact, Mashable comes right out and says that you can give free drinks to a friend.
Excellent. Welcome to the future, where everyone just gives drinks to each other and never pays for Pepsi (and let's be serious, Pepsi isn't worth paying for) again.
All right, all right, calm down. There's more: you can also give free drinks to strangers as a "random act of refreshment." The strangers who will receive your drinks could be in a city that's experiencing bad weather, or from a university that's just won a championship. How these strangers will be picked is unclear.
So yeah, now even drink-buying is getting all social on you. The only problem, of course, is that all of these gifted drinks must be redeemed at a Social Vending Machine. So unless Pepsi manages to get these babies on every street corner in the next year or so, I don't really see it taking off.
That said, if I see a Social Vending Machine, I am totally sending a Diet Mtn Dew my way.