The View from Vending

Poor economy leading to uptick in vending machine purchases

FORT ATKINS, Wis. -- As the economic climate continues to put pressure on the American consumers' pocketbook, food and drink brands are finding competition fierce in stores around the country. But according to a study commissioned by Automatic Merchandiser magazine to determine how consumers view vending machines during the current recession, fewer than 10% of adults have made no vending purchase during the course of a year. Nearly a quarter of respondents acknowledged a vending purchase within the past 24 hours of the interview with almost 40% making a vending purchase [image-nocss] within the past seven days prior to the interview.

Almost 25% of respondents felt the vending product was fresher than the same purchase would have been in a store. Nearly 60% found no difference in store or vending freshness. The economy has also attributed to an increase in vending purchases. Six in 10 respondents who acknowledge spending more over the past year on vending claim it is typically substituted for other foodservice alternatives.

The survey, conducted by Chicago-based Leo J. Shapiro & Associates, interviewed 562 adults in 38 states during the month of November 2008.

"Nearly 75% of vending consumers were brand specific in their choice," said Elliot Maras, editor of Automatic Merchandiser magazine. "That number rises to almost 80% for cold drinks; 82% of respondents found the vending experience to be equal or superior to an in-store purchase."

The magazine suggested that vending operators will find that by building on an established equity-convenience-they can weather the current recession and improve profitability over the longer term, when the current recession ends.