One question that I get asked over and over is the size of the vending industry. This year I would answer $19.31 billion from the 2013 Automatic Merchandiser/VendingMarketWatch State of the Vending Industry Report. What then follows is a short pause followed by the question, “Why are your numbers different than the report from [insert organization here]?” This blog is to clear up this second question. The short answer is that it differs because of who I’m counting.
The Automatic Merchandiser/VendingMarketWatch report includes only vending, micro market and office coffee operators who service locations with vending machines or similar technology. Those operators might be small (the majority) with less than 5 routes, or they may be larger operations with over 100 routes. They might be franchises or independents, but they all serve refreshments to consumers via unattended machines and markets at a place of business, school or public venue. That’s how we define the industry. It is who we profile and the people we write articles and create multimedia for. These are our readers.
Who we do not include are amusement operators nor corporate vending machines such as Redbox. These operations run on different business models with their other needs. They buy different equipment, products and purpose.
When the numbers are higher
However, there are times (and organizations) where other types of vending, such as corporate vending machines, would be valuable. One example is legislation concerning vending equipment whether it’s proposed energy star standards or extra taxes on dispensed products. For organizations dealing with these issues, the vending industry can be a lot bigger than those operators serving consumers. It can include any company that uses a vending machine. Therefore, these organizations add vending that we consider outside the core of the industry.
I would not say the numbers in other reports are incorrect, they just represent different segments. It’s always a good idea to look (or ask) about the methodology of the report, including who was asked and how the organization got the names. This can help operators have a complete understanding of how best to use the information in their own businesses.
So the next time you are reading over the latest industry numbers, I hope this helps clears up a few questions. The numbers often show more about the organizations’ agenda, than about the actual industry. And depending on your target audience, changes how you slice the retail market.