With soft drink sales decreasing and the demand for personalization and customization increasing, Coca-Cola created Coca-Cola Freestyle with the goal to keep customers fully engaged, socially involved and – most importantly – buying refreshing drinks. With more than one hundred drink options and the ability to combine several at a time, Coca-Cola Freestyle provides limitless possibilities to create and discover new beverages. But it takes time to make a masterpiece, and digital natives wanted personalized digital experiences and social sharing capabilities. Coca-Cola needed to pick up the pace at the dispenser while also satisfying the preferences of its target audience and allowing them to share their creations with others.
Working with Bottle Rocket, Coca-Cola Freestyle launched an industry-transforming, cross-channel experience that engaged users through the Freestyle Machine and for the first time through mobile and social platforms.
At the beginning of the engagement, we made several critical observations that drove design and development. First, via usability testing, we learned that when someone created a new drink or recreated an old favorite, they wanted a friend to try it. With this in mind, we designed the app to allow users to create, share and revise drink mixes with friends. When iMessage was released, we quickly incorporated it to allow further sharing of mixes and to encourage downloads of the app. Coca-Cola was one of the first to market with this powerful iOS feature.
Another major discovery from on-site usability testing was the propensity for users to apologize if a line formed while creating their drink or attempting to connect their phone to the machine. Adding the ability to connect via QR code greatly reduced connection failure rate and overall time to connect by several seconds. Since users could create and save their favorites and connect much quicker, customers shifted from apologizing for their curiosity to celebrating their creativity.
The Freestyle apps were created native to each platform (iOS and Android) to ensure the best possible experience. In addition to pouring custom mixes and sharing favorite creations, users were also able to gain access to special offers including Amazon gift cards, exclusive celebrity mixes and other marketing perks. The apps were downloaded more than one million times and maintained consistently high ratings in both the App Store and Google Play store.
Since its debut, Freestyle machines have helped drive soda sales for restaurants and traffic among customers. The company says that drink sales and customer traffic are up 8% and 3%, respectively, with the machines. The app gives the company more insight into customer behavior and how users respond to promotions and offers (https://www.marketingdive.com/news/coca-cola-upgrades-freestyle-dispenser-with-bluetooth-mobile-app-requests/524035/).
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