Last week it was brought to my attention that, in an effort to commandeer accounts, some vending operators have considered slashing the prices of micro markets. Although it may seem worthy to attempt to price micro markets competitively with vending, it really takes away from the essence of what micro markets can be.
For the longest time the only real competition vending operators had were other operators. Vending companies were forced to sit back and bare the social stigmas of vending food, while convenience stores continued to grow and thrive. Consumers continued to purchase identical products from convenience stores that they could get for considerably lower price points in vending machines. The world was seemingly tricked into thinking that because it was on a shelf, as opposed to a spiral that it was somehow better.
That gap seems to be narrowing, however, with the introduction of micro markets. As evidenced in the operation profile of Elite Cuisine LLC, St. Louis, Mo., in the June issue of Automatic Merchandiser, micro markets aren’t just another segment of vending — they allow operators to stop competing with themselves and start competing with convenience stores.
So when I heard that this opportunity was potentially being threatened by operators who continue to compete the only way they know how, it concerned me. If I’ve learned one thing in my short time in this industry it’s that vending people, for the most part, get along. It’s not a cut-throat business where operators and manufacturers try to bury the competition by any means necessary. No, to me it seems like those involved in this industry have a legitimate interest in seeing the industry succeed as a whole. So why would anyone want to jeopardize the well-being of the industry by taking the legs out from underneath what could potentially be the most lucrative segment the industry has ever seen?
I believe it’s time to embrace change and gear up to take on an old rival in a new way. There is a lot of money to be made if micro markets are done right—as evidenced by the 50 percent sales growth Elite Cuisine LLC claimed with its micro markets. It’s a step in the right direction to revitalizing the industry.