The Mint will conduct an aggressive consumer advertising campaign for the new coins, he noted.
But unlike the introduction of the Golden Dollar, the Mint will not introduce the new coins through only one retail chain. The new coins will be introduced to different retailers to build circulation.
"The Mint is very incenticized to make this successful," he said.
Mint urges vending operators to place orders early
Moy urged vending operators to place orders for the new coins early with their financial institutions. This will help the Mint monitor demand.
He also encouraged vending operators to use posters and take advantage of information tool kits the Mint will make available to educate consumers.
Consumer study: vending needs repositioning
For years, consultants have urged vending operators to think more like retailers. Operators have accepted this advice to varying degrees, but now they have hard evidence that doing this will positively impact their business.
Mike Dabadie, senior vice president of Harris/Wirthlin Brand & Strategy Group, Harris Interactive, presented the results of the first extensive consumer research done in several years at the NAMA general meeting. The research, sponsored by NAMA, revealed that consumers are generally not aware of the healthy offerings currently available in vending, are largely unaware of technological advances, and generally hold vending in low esteem in terms of value compared to other retail venues.
While much of this isn’t news to operators, Dabadie believes that there is a lot operators can do to improve the value proposition they bring to the table. The first step is understanding how consumers define value. Once they do this, operators will recognize that they can meet consumer expectations by better positioning themselves.
The research covered vending consumers’ perceptions, expectations, usage patterns, and habits. The findings also included insight on barriers, pricing, and alternative payment methods.
Dabadie noted that it’s important for vending operators to understand how consumers view vending.
Harris Interactive interviewed 2,223 consumers aged 14 and above. Almost three quarters (73 percent) were vending users and the balance were non-users.
As indicated in other studies, the most positive perceptions consumers have of vending have to do with convenience and ease of use. Negative perceptions focus on lack of healthy products, lack of variety and poor value.
Speaking of value, Dabadie said it’s important to remember that value is not defined solely by price, but also by the benefit the product provides.
Health awareness is a big concern among consumers. Dabadie said 60 percent of the respondents claim to be following a healthy diet. Overall, consumers have low expectations from vending in the area of healthy offerings.
Vending consumers largely recognize that healthy choices are an individual responsibility, but this doesn’t absolve the vending industry of responsibility in making healthy choices available. Most consumers believe the vending industry has a role to play in promoting healthy food.
Asked if they agreed that vending machines include healthy choices, 26 percent said they disagreed, 23 percent said they agreed, and 51 percent said neither.
Concern about children’s health was also an issue in how consumers view vending. "Parents recognize they are challenged, not only for themselves, but for their kids," Dabadie said.
Consumers who plan to use vending machines less often in the future were largely unaware (82 percent) of the technological advances being made in vending. A 71 percent majority also said vending prices are higher than prices in other outlets, and 63 percent said vending offerings are of lower value than those in other retail outlets.