Our Image Is Changing, But Everyone Must Help

Aug. 13, 2008
That's What I Think

With all of the difficulties confronting us today, it’s important to keep in mind that good things are happening as well. The automatic merchandising industry includes a lot of talented, hard working people who are creating a great future for themselves and the new generation of operators, manufacturers, distributors and all of their employees.

Mainstream Media Covers Vending

On July 24, The History Channel aired on its “Modern Marvels” show an exciting examination of coin operated machine technology. The show covered the full line vending, amusement vending and bulk vending industries along with other coin operated applications, such as pay telephones. The bulk of the hour-long show focused on full line vending.

This show was thoroughly engaging. Anyone who saw it learned about the great things that vending machines can do nowadays — such as guaranteeing product delivery — and the big role that computer automation is playing in many aspects of vending.

The technology was put into historical perspective, going back to the earliest vending machines that dispensed holy water in ancient Greece and the Tutti Fruitti gum machines in New York City subway stations.

The millions of consumers who saw this show learned vending is an evolving and very specialized profession.
Why does this matter? Because, as numerous studies have shown, the vending industry needs to adjust its image in order to have a better future. While the industry has changed over the years, much of the consuming public still thinks of vending machines as purveyors of “junk” food.

Consumer Perception is Still Changing

While some studies show consumer perception has progressed over the years, there is still a long way to go, especially in light of the current challenges facing our industry. Vending operators are struggling like never before to raise prices as profit margins are suffering, and they are still facing customer resistance.

Newspapers are reporting that “even vending” prices are rising, as if vending machines deserve secondary status.

This has to change, and it won’t happen without vending advocates.

The “Modern Marvels” show presented our industry in the most professional light that any TV show has done, probably ever.

Vending Needs Spokespeople

This didn’t happen by accident. Jackie Clark, NAMA’s director of public relations, called The History Channel
almost a year ago and convinced them to do a show on vending. She sent them tons of material, answered numerous questions, and put them in touch with key sources.

In Clark’s words, “We changed the way they (The History Channel) think about vending and they changed the way consumers think about vending.”

Last year, Clark accomplished a similar feat when The Food Network did a half hour segment on our industry.

The membership of NAMA is certainly getting their money’s worth as our national trade association is on the job of changing consumers’ views of vending.

If you are interested in getting a copy of this broadcast, contact Jackie Clark at 301-987-7113. And don’t forget to congratulate her on the excellent job she is doing for you.

Every industry member should be encouraged by this outstanding show to do his or her part to further our industry’s reputation.