Marketing quality time at a reverse vending machine

February 22, 2009 by Dave Haynes

MediaPost has a piece up about a new type of vending machione that has screens built in, and may well be the most attractive media vehicle of its type.

While most vending machines have people in front of them for a matter of seconds, a recycling machine from a company called Tomra Systems has people engaged for a matter of minutes – and an attractive audience, at that.

It’s a reverse vending machine, in which consumers haul their empty bottles and cans back to a supermarket or wherever, and feed them back into a machine that optically scans the empties and at the end spits back refund money. A screen is embedded in the vending unit.

Tomra emphasized the proximity of the machines to the point of sale, noting that most people who recycle cans and bottles at the machines do so before they go shopping. The company also touted the opportunity for advertisers to associate their products with an environmentally friendly “green” activity.

The dwell time–a few minutes–allows advertisers to present a fully articulated message via the built-in video screens. The target audience is also attractive. Tomra pointed to studies showing that consumers who return empties before shopping spend up to 52% more during their shopping visits. 

If the image MediaPost has up is correct, I think the screen is a little small and high, but there may well be engineering and mechanical reasons behind that. On the surface it looks like a very clever way to at least help offset the operating costs. While the numbers of users per day will be limited, these are concsmers who are thinking green, and marketers would, I’d imagine, love to have some quality time with them right in a supermarket.  

Leave a comment