Coca-Cola Freestyle

Part
01
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Part
01

Fountain Soda Machines

While the official market size of the United States was not publicly available, our team was able to calculate that the estimated market size of fountain soda machines in the country will be US$343.5 million in 2020.

Industry Statistics

  • According to the analysis presented by Grand View Research, the global market size for the fountain soda machines pr soda water dispenser industry reached US$1 billion in 2018 and is expected to continue growing at a 5.4% CAGR between 2019 and 2025.
  • Based on the information by Hashtap, the global market reached US$1,026.6 million in 2019 and will reach US$1,316.7 million by 2024.
  • According to the same report, the US market of fountain soda machines grew from US$0.29 billion to US$0.30 billion between 2015 and 2016 and has continued to grow consistently and expected to continue until 2025.
  • North America had the largest market share in the world, with 42.1% in 2018.
  • The companies driving market penetration are the quick service restaurants like Domino's, Pizza Hut, KFC, Burger King, and Subway.
  • Additionally, the leading fountain soda manufacturers in North America are Dr. Pepper, Pepsico Inc., and The Coca-Cola Company.
  • The leading firms of soda fountain machines are Himalay Soda Fountain, Cool Star, Lancer, Zikool, Softy and Soda, Cornelius, Manitowoc, Planet Soda Machine, Soda Parts, and Real Beverage.
  • The market is distributed by machine design in counter-top and drop-in machines. While the counter-top design is the preferred style, with a 69.1% market share in the US and the world, the drop-in design's market size will grow at a 6.4% CAGR until 2025.
  • Based on its dispenser style, the breakdown is between the lever and push-in styles. The lever style has the largest market share, 71.3%, while the push-in style has been growing at 6.9% CAGR between 2018 and 2025.

Research Strategy

To determine the market size of fountain soda machines in the US, we began searching through industry websites like BevNet, articles, and interviews with leaders in the industry like Coca-Cola's website, and other economical magazines like Forbes and Money. However, while these articles spoke about newer products, none of them had information about the industry's market size in the US.

As our second step, we looked through industry reports like the ones presented by Grand View Research, Hashtap, Value Market Research, AE Research, Reuters, etc. Our idea behind this strategy was finding the percentage represented by the US in the global market to calculate its market size. While these reports presented the global market size and North America's market share, but there was little information about the US market size since most of the data was hidden behind a paywall.

The most relevant data was found in the Grand View Research report, the US market size growth from 2015 (US$0.29 billion) to 2016 (US$0.30 billion) with a prediction of continued growth at a similar pace until 2025. We used these data points to calculate the growth percentage between 2015 and 2016 and used that percentage as CAGR to calculate the estimated market size in 2020.

Calculations

First, we used an online CAGR calculator to determine the growth between 2015 and 2016, taking 2015's market size of US$0.29 billion or US$290 million as the initial value, and 2016's market size of US$0.30 billion or US$300 million as the end value, over one period.

From our first calculation, we found that the growth between 2015 and 2016 was 3.45%Next, since the US market presents a consistent growth year over year until 2025, we took 2016's market size as our initial value and used the same growth percentage as our CAGR until 2020, or over four periods.

The results indicated that, if the US market for fountain soda machines continues to grow at the same speed, the size in 2020 is an estimated US$343,592,151.36 or US$343.5 million.

For easier access, the screenshots of every calculation were included in the attached document. Finally, we concluded that this market size seems to confirm the information that in 2018, North America represented 42.1% of the global market size of US$1 billion, from which the US is the largest market.
Part
02
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Part
02

Coca-Cola Freestyle Comeptitors

Four competitors for Coca-Cola Freestyle soda machines in the US are Pepsi Spire, Cornelius, Lancer, and Midwest Equipment company.

Director Competitors

1. Pepsi Spire

  • Pepsi Spire's website is pepsispire.com.
  • Pepsico Inc.'s version of a digital soda fountain machine allows users to customize their soda drinks at the sofa fountain through the touchscreen control. The user can mix different flavors like cherry, vanilla, raspberry, lemon, strawberry, lime, grape, peach, etc. with their favorite drink from Pepsico, like Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Brisk Iced Tea, Tropicana, Sierra Mist, and even Pepsi's SoBe Lifewater.
  • Users will be able to create more than 1,000 combinations with the Pepsi Spire machine.
  • The machine mixes the ingredients chosen in the proportions specified by the client and delivers a fresh carbonated drink or non-carbonated drink instantly.
  • Pepsi Spire has different presentations in its portfolio, each of them with their own characteristics and advantages, Pepsi Spire 1.1, Pepsi Spire 2.0, Pepsi Spire Ice Dispenser, Pepsi Spire 5.0 in countertop or freestanding model, Pepsi Interactive Vending Machine, and Pepsi Smart Cooler.
  • Pepsi Spire has been designed to compete directly with Coca-Cola Freestyle machine and increase Pepsi's presence in the food-service industry, making the machine available in fast service restaurants, cinemas, etc.

Indirect Competitors

2. Lancer

  • Its website is lancercorp.com.
  • Lancer Corp manufactures a wide variety of beverage dispensers for soda, frozen, beer, and ice. Their products include accessories for the dispensers and countertop and tower presentations, with push-in, digital, and lever styles.
  • Lancer Corporation is a Texan company that creates and distributes soda dispensers across the globe. The company has an annual revenue of $35 million.
  • It is a competitor for Coca-Cola Freestyle as a manufacturer of commercial soda dispensers with a large presence in the country and established brand since 1967.

3. Cornelius

  • IMI Cornelius Inc. is a manufacturer of beverage dispensers from Minnesota, and a global leader in the fountain soda industry, with annual revenue of $32.1 million.
  • Cornelius Inc.'s website is cornelius.com.
  • They create interactive, and traditional lever style soda fountains, designed for countertop and commercial use.
  • Their latest product, the IDC-pro, offers customizable beverage options that can be managed by the user through a touchscreen, where they can combine different brands and ingredients, including Coca-Cola's products.
  • Similar to Lancer Corp, they competed with Coca-Cola Freestyle as leading manufacturers of soda dispensers in the US, and an established brand positioning since 1931.

4. Midwest Equipment Company

  • Midwest Equipment Company is a manufacturer and distributor of beverage dispenser machines from Missouri, with an annual revenue of $9.9 million.
  • Its website is taylormidwest.com.
  • While its focus is not on beverage dispensers only, they have a wide variety of dispenser options for sodas and frozen drinks for restaurants and commercial use. Their style is traditional dispensers, and dispensers for frozen carbonated drinks.
  • While they are not leaders in the market, they are direct competitors for Lancer and Cornelius, other competitors for Coca-Cola Freestyle.

Research Strategy

To determine Coca-Cola Freestyle's direct competitors in the US, we began looking for market share reports of the industry in the US, through Grand View Research, Reuters, etc. While the reports mentioned Pepsico Inc., The Coca-Cola Company, and Dr. Pepper as the leading manufacturers of fountain soda machines, most of them focused on the global industry market size, and none of the reports had public information about these brands in the US, but it was hidden behind a paywall.

Next, we looked through articles, publications, and interviews with Coca-Cola's executives. Our idea was to find any mention of who they recognized as their competitors for the Freestyle machine. We found that the only competitor mentioned in multiple sources was Pepsi Spire. Even looking through industry articles, consumer comparisons, the only product that Coca-Cola Freestyle was compared against was this one.

Pepsi is Coca-Cola's main competitor in all aspects, revenue, market share, target market, product similarity, etc. Additionally, we found that Pepsico Inc. created Pepsi Spire with the purpose of competing against Coca-Cola Freestyle. While the information about the market share they have in the fountain soda industry was limited, from the confirmation provided by their executives, we included it as its only direct competitor.

As our third step, we decided to focus on providers of traditional soda machines and soda dispensers made more fast food restaurants, since we could not identify more digital/touchscreen soda machines comparable to Coca-Cola's product. The dominating firms in the industry are Lancer, Cornelius, Real Beverage, Planet Soda Machine, Softy and Soda, Himalay Soda Fountain, Soda Parts, Zikool, Cool Star, and Manitowoc. Only Lancer and Cornelius are US brands, so we included some of their direct competitors, like Midwest Equipment Company.

These manufacturers don't create their own drinks, like Coca-Cola and Pepsi do, and are just dispensers that often distribute Coca-Cola brands in their machines, or count Coca-Cola as one of its main partners. Since their revenue promotes Coca-Cola's revenue as well, we did not consider them as direct competitors; however, we included them as indirect competitors for the distribution of soda dispenser machines and not the customized beverages. Also, they were listed as leaders in the industry in multiple reports. Cornelius even has a touchscreen customizable drink dispenser, but their compared revenues don't match Coca-Cola's and their market shares are hidden behind paywalls.
Part
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Part
03

Coca-Cola Freestyle SWOT

Some strengths Coca-Cola Freestyle has are its market share, brand positioning, being released years before its competitors, and its large portfolio of beverages while their weaknesses are the costs for the restaurant owners. The opportunities they have are the room to grow in the market, the chance to add healthier options from their portfolio, and the budget to create new software and technology while the threats are the Pepsi Spire machine as a direct competitor and the declining interest of Americans in carbonated drinks.

Strengths

  • One strength that Coca-Cola Freestyle has against its competitors is that they were the leaders in digital soda fountain innovation, taking advantage in the market four years before its main competitor, Pepsi Spire, was released to the market in 2014.
  • Coca-Cola Freestyle has almost ten years of market positioning since it was introduced in 2009 and has the largest market share in the US.
  • By 2014, Coca-Cola Freestyle already had over 20,000 machines positioned in the US.
  • Coca-Cola Freestyle has over 100 flavors the clients can choose from their portfolio to create their drink combinations.

Weaknesses

  • Coca-Cola Freestyle is only available for commercial use at restaurants, cinemas, etc. while Pepsi Spire has created different models to attract the in-home carbonated drinks fountain market.
  • Pepsi Spire also allows clients to save their record of preferred mixes so they can scan their mixes for easier access while using the fountain at restaurants.
  • Coca-Cola's soda cartridges are more expensive than Pepsi Spire's bag-in-box syrup, they also charge more than Pepsi to install their equipment in a restaurant, and for the monthly-fee.
  • In order to take more market with their new technology, Coca-Cola Freestyle needs to invest in expensive machines, connectivity, new software, packaging, and technology for their cartridge design, which also takes more time.

Opportunities

  • One of the main opportunities that Coca-Cola Freestyle has is attracting a larger audience by incorporating more natural choices with its healthy portfolio, like Dasani bottled water, Smartwater, Vitaminwater, ZICO coconut water, and Honest Tea.
  • Coca-Cola has room for expansion in the fountain soda market as it only has a market share of 6% since it was launched.
  • Coca-Cola Freestyle can design a more transparent pricing system with its budget to continue having the leadership in the market, since the cartridge system makes it harder for restaurant owners to calculate cost-per-ounce for the drinks they sell.

Threats

  • As a company, Coca-Cola and other soda brands and distributors have been suffering from the customers' ongoing preference towards healthier beverages, like water bottles, and natural drinks.
  • The soft carbonated drinks market of the US has been declining for the past 12 years.
  • Pepsico Inc. released the Pepsi Spire soda fountain to compete directly with Coca-Cola Freestyle.
Part
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Part
04

Fountain Soda Machine Industry Trends

Two trends that the US fountain soda machine industry is following in the US are the adoption of machines for organic/crafted sodas, and the increasing need for technology and innovation.

1. Organic and Crafted Fountain Soda Machines

  • This trend indicates the creation of different fountain soda machines designed for organic sodas and crafted beverages that separate themselves from the traditional commercial soda brands.
  • The main driver behind this trend are moms since they want to have a healthier beverage option for their children.
  • However, this trend is also being followed by people who desire to reduce sugar intake from their diet, people between 18 and 42 years old, and mainly millennials.
  • The niche of organic and crafted sodas is expected to continue growing to $732 million in the US by 2025, according to the analysis presented by Smart Soda, one of the industry leaders.
  • The crafted soda trend has also given foot to at home fountain soda machines designed for organic soda, like the Sprizzi Drink Co. machine.
  • Some companies leading this trend are Tractor Soda, Organic Pops, Oogavé, Smart Soda, Rocky Mountain Soda, Maine Root Fair Trade Natural Fountain Soda, and Pepsi's Stubborn Soda.

2. Increasing Focus on Innovative Options

  • Due to the growing demand for fountain soda machines and penetration in the Chinese market, the number of manufacturers has also increased all over the world.
  • This has driven the industry to work with brands like The Coca-Cola Company, Dr. Pepper, and Pepsico Inc. to innovate, redesign, and integrate technology in the machines, hence differentiating the brands and fountain machines from others.
  • The clearest example of a company leading this trend is The Coca-Cola Company, with the creation of the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, a touchscreen fountain soda machine that allows consumers to be creative while delivering their beverages faster.

Research Strategy

To determine two trends in the US fountain soda machine industry, we began by looking for precompiled lists of market trends available in industry magazines, like Beverage Daily, Beverage Co, etc. However, while we were able to find several articles related to the industry and its products, a list of trends was not available.

Next, we decided to compare different industry reports and market studies like Grand View Research, Hashtap, Reuters, etc. to see if they presented any insight on trends. The reports gave insights about the preferences in the industry and its growing segments; however, they focused on the global market, and most of the information regarding trends was hidden behind a paywall.

As our third step, we decided to look through different articles of products, customer preferences, and insights about the industry and create our list of trends based on the information repeated across different sources. We identified two statements that were repeated most often, the industry's focus on innovation and technology, and the consumer's demand for an organic option in fountain soda machines. To ensure these trends were focused in the US, we utilized articles from US magazines, or that indicated their presence in the country.
Part
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Part
05

Coca-Cola Freestyle Perceptions

Coca-Cola Freestyle has received a mix of positive and negative reviews from end-users and restaurant owners. The positive perceptions focus on the experience, the wide variety of flavors, the entertainment of creating a new drink, and how the machine elevates the class of the restaurant. The negative comments focus on the end flavor of some traditional drinks, and the long lines to get their drink prepared.

Coca-Cola Freestyle is Highly Loved by Millenials

  • Coca-Cola Freestyle is mostly preferred by Millennials, who usually enjoy the chance to personalize their experience and combine it with their digital lives.
  • In 2015, Coca-Cola Freestyle had more than 20,000 machines around the US and was selling more than 1.8 billion beverages per year. By the end of 2016, Coca-Cola Freestyle had more than 200 million units sold around the world.
  • They also like that Coca-Cola Freestyle allows them to get flavor combinations they love, even if no one else does, or if the combination is not already available in the market.

Coca-Cola Freestyle Elevates the Reputation of a Restaurant

  • From the perception of the end user, they consider that locations that offer a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine to their clients have immediate acceptance from them as it elevates their places class and reputation.
  • A review from a Millennial Coca-Cola Freestyle customer reads: "Seeing the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine raises the class of the place that offers it. My ego can get wrapped up in that it’s just for me. I know I’m getting an option that’s just for me. Vanilla Cherry Coke isn’t a common flavor, and you can’t get that in the store, but if I like it, even if it is a weird flavor, I can get it. The machine is great!"
  • Coca-Cola's market research team informed that 80% of their clients think that a having a machine in place gives a positive perception of any place, elevating its brand and almost 66% of the clients think that their decision to visit a restaurant is highly influenced by whether they have a Freestyle machine or not.
  • Based on the same research, customers travel more to locations that have a Freestyle machine, and 80% of them consider that just having the machine there makes their restaurant experience better.
  • However, some other clients indicate that they avoid places with Coca-Cola Freestyle machines because they prefer their drinks without the contamination of the flavors a previous person chose.

Restaurant Owners Use it as Strategy to Attract more Clients

  • According to a study conducted by the Union University, from the perception of a quick-service restaurant owner, they rather invest in a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine than on traditional fountain soda machines, as they help boost the popularity of the establishment as people seek for these machines and love the chance to customize what they drink.
  • However, they are at the same time concerned that the popularity of the machine will increase the time their clients want for their beverages, as they will need to wait in line to make their combination.
  • This concern seems to be justified, as some clients complain about the wait time to get Freestyle drinks instead of the ones from the regular fountain soda machine.

Number of Combinations

  • Some customers are unaware of the wide variety of options or feel overwhelmed by the amount to combinations available at the machines, and stick to regular combinations.
  • The machine is not very appealing to clients who are less adventurous or rather stick to combinations or flavors that are already available in the market.
  • According to the review made by the Esquire team, the number of combinations and advanced technology of the machine can make the experience more intimidating than inviting at first.
  • Some others consider the experience fascinating and enjoy having the opportunity to try something different from the regular soda drinks.
  • In an interview with Joel Bishop and Chris Hellmann, leaders of the Coca-Cola Freestyle brand, they were asked about the feedback received from their customers, to which they indicated that the clients love interacting and experimenting with the machine, although, once the experimentation phase is over, they like going back to their favorite combinations.

Flavors

  • Based on the review made by the Esquire team, while some flavors are great, some popular combinations, and even combinations available in the market taste too sugary when made by the machine.
  • Some reviews made on the Eat Like No One blog, say that some customers consider the flavors disappointing, as they never taste as they expected, and even the flavor of a regular coke is different. The same is said in the reviews published by Nasdaq.
  • However, some clients who like trying new things enjoy the flavors, and consider that these combinations are great to save them from boredom; however, they prefer the bottled drinks in their day-to-day.
  • The team from Serious Eats tried 127 Coca-Cola Freestyle combinations to review them all, and explained who some flavors are classic and already loved, other combinations tasted bad, and some were surprisingly great.

Negative Perceptions

  • Some customers, mainly adults, complain about the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, and have even created a hate Facebook page for the brand, even talking about boycotting the brand.
  • There is also a Reddit thread to complain about the flavor of the Coke Classic product.
  • Some comments found through the page complain about the long lines, the taste of the beverages, the uncomfortable feeling of a sticky touchscreen for all the kids playing with the machine, and about the risk of ingesting an ingredient the person is allergic to because the previous user chose it.
Sources
Sources