Vending Machines: What will they think of next?

Posted on March 27, 2014


Any product that’s super popular around 2:00 am should live in a vending machine.

This week, I came across my first ballet flat vending machine in a Berlin nightclub. I feel like I had this idea years ago on a particularly rough disco night… although I was going to sell the ballet flats on the street á la the guys who dispense roses to awkward first-daters in Italian restaurants. In retrospect, that was a terrible idea. But no worries; “necessity is the mother of invention,” as they say. Thus, some other savvy gals equipped US clubs with end-of-the-night foot savers a few years ago. I’ve yet to see one in San Francisco, but think the idea is genius.

What else do you need at 2:00am? Cupcakes, obviously. Enter: Sprinkles. The popular NYC outlet has placed its new “Cupcake ATM” conveniently outside it’s Upper East Side shop. Because there’s nothing worse than forlornly eyeing Sprinkles from behind the closed glass window! This is just good marketing. Sprinkles can dump the daily leftover cupcakes into the vending machine (although I’m sure that’s not exactly what they claim) to maximize revenue. Eager cupcake eaters can also skip the line during opening hours or grab a cupcake for the road even long after the bakery is closed for the day. And then there’s the pure novelty factor. I don’t know of any other cupcake vending machines, especially from hype-worthy brands like Sprinkles — so a quick $5 purchase on your evening walk seems fun and totally necessary (or at least justifiable).

And while we’re on the topic of vending machines… DNA? Ok, it’s not exactly marketing, but another vending machine innovation came from Gabe Barcia-Colombo, an artist who created a “DNA Vending Machine, which dispenses extracted human DNA, packaged in a vial along with a collectible photo of the person who gave it.” He detailed the invention in a TED Talk.

What will they think of next?


Posted in: Marketing, Retail