Recently Coca-Cola released a 7-inch width Diet Coke vending machine cleverly named the “Slender Vender.” The ad accompanying the ultra-thin machine depicted it in places such as between treadmills at gyms and between lanes at bowling alleys, among others.
The first thing that came to mind when seeing the “Slender Vender” was its unique design. The design of a soda machine has been the same for a number of years. Sure, things have been added for convenience and they have been modified to look more modern, but the size has pretty much been the same forever. When I saw the Slender Vender, I thought a machine like this could really benefit the vending industry. It could lead to a more versatile machine that is sleek and eye-catching, and one that vending operators could install in areas once closed to the vending industry.
However, following the release of the ad, critics have mentioned that Coke’s skinny vending machine was a jab at a woman’s body image. Some went as far as to say that Coke is suggesting that it’s better, specifically for women, to be thinner. I want to preface what follows with the fact that I never even had the thought of the analogy that some of these critics are making and I believe the suggestion is at best a stretch.
We are in an age where, contrary to the age-old cliché, smaller is better. Everything around you, especially in reference to technology is getting thinner and lighter. Cell phones, computers, televisions and even vehicles have all adopted smaller more efficient models without so much as a peep. Most people embrace the thinner smartphone technology, as opposed to the clunky flip phones of yesteryear, and I didn’t hear Apple getting criticized when the iPhone got smaller and thinner.
The fact of the matter is Coke is simply following the trends and doesn’t deserve to be chastised for it. This should, like any other innovation, be embraced and not criticized. Coke’s intentions weren’t to humiliate anybody or to suggest anything, but to offer a fun and convenient product that catches the consumer’s eye. The “Slender Vender” has the potential to be a worthwhile mainstay in the vending industry sparking the interest of young consumers and bringing Millenials back to vending.