Coca-Cola is adding Wi-Fi to its vending machines


Many people believe that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory has to be modified, as Wi-Fi or internet access becomes a basic need in our lives.

How about some free Internet browsing with your ice cold beverage? Coca-Cola and British Telecom are teaming up to test out Wi-Fi-enabled vending machines in South Africa, hoping to bring invaluable online access to some of the poorest communities in the world. The scheme will start in two locations to begin with before rolling out further if it proves a success.

There is no charge or purchase necessary to take advantage of the Wi-Fi. Why Coca-Cola is doing so? We may have a guess.

  1. Place

In 4Ps model, a good location (Place) is very important. However, with Wi-Fi, the vending machine doesn’t need to be located in the best location at an expensive rent, because people themselves will try approaching to the machine no matter where it is.

  1. Name your own price

Remember the case we learn about Radiohead’s album? Although the Wi-Fi of vending machine is free, but some people may feel that it’s more reasonable to buy one or two Cokes, in return for the Wi-Fi service they enjoy.

  1. Corporate Social Responsibility

The sites chosen for the launch of the free Wi-Fi service are close to schools and communities which are strategically chosen as“free Wi-Fi will enable students and school children in the area to increase their knowledge through research while also giving entrepreneurs and small business owners in the community the opportunity to manage some of their business aspects online”.

But some people are also wondering if scammers will set up lookalike fake hotspots to steal data. Additionally, they also doubt how much traffic these hotspots can handle.

What about the future? In my own opinion, if the Coca-Cola vendor machine with Wi-Fi is installed in a store which promises not to sell Pepsi any more, it may be a win-win for both Coca-Cola and the store.

What do you think of this IT transformation? Will they succeed in putting a same machine in your own country, and how?



3 responses to “Coca-Cola is adding Wi-Fi to its vending machines”

  1. 356867tk says :


    Interesting post. As you explain well, I think it is a (good) marketing tool. In the Netherlands 72% of the people have access to mobile internet on their phone. So I don’t think people in the Netherlands will really search for those vending machines just to get wifi. Although, in countries where fewer people have mobile internet subscriptions, it could work!

  2. 356999 says :

    Great post, it tackles the interesting concept of using MNC supply chains and distribution channels to deliver public goods. Coca Cola has done something along these lines with Project Last Mile when they realized that Coca Cola had a greater reach than medicine in remote parts of Africa and resolved to ensure that the availability was at least equal. The only concern I’d have relates to the electricity needs of providing this service and whether or not it will be brought in from the outside or reliant on local power infrastructure.

  3. 356050lo says :

    I enjoyed reading your post! I did not hear about this initiative before. At first, it sounds very promising. The Wi-Fi enabled vending machines will likely increase the Coca Cola sales due to both the Wi-Fi function and a better reputation of Coca Cola. In exchange for this, they do good!

    However, I believe that the increase in sales will not be for a long time as Coca Cola’s major competitor Pepsi will come up with a similar technology and more importantly because Google and Facebook (together with other major technology firms such as Nokia, Ericsson, Qualcomm, and Samsung) have set up two great projects aiming to provide internet access for everyone. These projects are called ‘Project Loon’ (Google) and (Facebook) and both primarily focus on providing internet access in rural and remote areas of the world. When they will succeed, there will be less demand for the Wi-Fi enabled vending machines.

    Besides, I wonder how the Wi-Fi enabled vending machines will work. Vending machines have to be connected to power sources and in true remote areas there usually are no power sources. Additionally, will there be demand for Coca Cola in these areas? How will people pay when they do not have money? How many people will be able to use the Wi-Fi simultaneously?

    I believe this initiative is mainly a marketing stunt from Coca Cola to improve their image. In my eyes it is much more helpfull to set up free Wi-Fi access without a Coca Cola vending machine. I think that a Wi-Fi enabled vending machine in the first world will be more of a success, but this will not have the same effect on their reputation.

    If you want to know more about Facebook and Google’s projects:

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