According to the European Vending Association (www.eva.be) the Consumers’ increasingly nomadic lifestyle is a great opportunity for the vending industry. They expect this out-of-home market to develop significantly in the next decade.
Recent years have been difficult for the vending manufacturers and operators. As we have seen – the manufacturing industry provides the majority of the demand for these machines, but this market is slowing down, because of a shift from blue-collar to white-collar workforce, also means that the type, range and quality of products supplied must be adapted. (www.eva.be).
Some development that are to be expected in the near future are;
- Machines that sell products with payment via mobile phones
- Machines equipped with internet browsers
- Order panels with tactile screens
- Machines that talk, for the blind or visually impaired
- More environmentally-friendly machines, that use refrigerants that are harmless for the environment, that make better use of environmentally-friendly materials, or recycled ones, that use less energy…
Other trends could be imagined that the control of the machines could be arranged on distance by using mobile information technology.
The growth-rate of the production in the US, measured over ten years is moderate. An increase of about 70 percent over ten year is less than 5% growth per year. Difficult to tell is what the development of different products and sectors have done in this period. But the numbers “hide” this information.
The European Vending association provides numbers of machines sold per period. This information is not sales oriented, but production oriented, for example:
In Spain there were sold 29,049 machines in 2001 up to 34,148 in 2004. And overall growth rate of 18 percent, and nearly due to the growth in 2004.
The situation in the Netherlands shows a growth rate of 25% but this is due to the growth in 1999. The situation stabilized since then. For Europe as such, the growth is also moderate of a twelve percent over the years 2001 to 2004 and in that case, this increase took place in 2004.
Google Trends demonstrates that people search less for “vending-machines” since 2004 and the Search engine suggest to read the following headline: Sex Toy Vending Machines Popular In Britain ([http://www.nbc4.tv/irresistible/7779805/detail.html] – 7 mar 2006).
That headline sheds some more light on the usage of these machines. It is not (only) that it facilitates a purchase at any moment in time. And it goes beyond the nomadic lifestyle.
Also interesting to know is that South Africa is the Top region for vending machine searches.
But although the trend line seems to decline slowly it is difficult to tell what really the trend is for vending machines. But it seems reasonable that these machine are still dependent of industry developments and that there are shifts from one category (manufacturing and beverages) to others (specialties and niche markets). Automatic teller machines, which could be seen as a family product dedicated to banking operations, have increased over the years and provided a massive shift in consumer behavior.
The question is what tendencies in society will make that vending machines will grow beyond normal demographic growth.
© 2006 Hans Bool