Coca Cola Almost Created A Vending Machine That Would Adjust Its Prices Based On?
Answer: The Weather
One of the more interesting things about the history of the iconic soda Coca Cola is how, for seventy three years, the cost of Coca Cola was fixed at five cents (due to contracts, the state of vending machine technology during that time, etc.). Not only did Coke taste great to millions of consumers, but they were comforted by the stability of a consumable they enjoyed so much. War or peace, feast or famine, recession or boom times, you could enjoy an ice cold Coke for a nickel.
With that in mind, it’s rather odd to hear that in 1999, Coca Cola was getting ready to experiment with variable-price vending machines where the variable was the weather. The vending machines were to be equipped with temperature sensors that would raise the price of Coke when temperatures went up and lower the price when temperatures went down. From a strictly “economic theory” point of view, the premise was solid: people pay more for goods they want more.
While analysts and investors applauded the idea as very clever and forward thinking, the sentiment wasn’t shared by much of anyone else. As you can readily imagine, consumers were furious at the idea. If there’s anything that consumers like, it’s the idea that they’re getting a fair deal. Paying 25 cents more because it was scorching hot outside didn’t sound like anything resembling a fair deal, nor was it even remotely in line with Coke’s long history of delivering an affordable and enjoyable commodity.
Pepsi, naturally, came out with an official statement that the entire premise was exploitative, unjust to consumers in warmer climates, and that Pepsi would never employ any measures that would hurt the consumer. The whole affair was quickly dropped and no further experiments with temperature-controlled vending machines were considered or pursued.
Image courtesy of Coca-Cola.