Champagne Wishes and Caviar from a Vending Machine
On a recent trip to L.A. we were strolling the Hollywood and Highland Mall, just off Hollywood Boulevard. This is one of those malls where the stores and prices range wildly. Here you may find a Kardashian with a collection of Louis Vuitton parcels or a tourist with a recent GAP purchase shopping at the CVS Pharmacy.
We couldn’t believe it when we found this vending machine with all things caviar.
Talk about adventurous marketing. Or is it?
On second thought, we saw this as a case of a supplier who understands their market. Where else but in a mall like Hollywood and Highland would a vending machine with Beverly Hills Caviar exist? And thrive, probably (it has been in place for at least 3 years). The people who shop in this mall may not all be interested in caviar products, but those who want something to illustrate their Hollywood/Beverly Hills, California visit, and have the funds to purchase $50 – $2,500 items, are likely to consider this option. As are those who need a top-end hostess gift, or something special on the table at their party.
Yes, that’s correct. This vending machine has items with up to a $2,500 price tag.
It’s an example of how customer expectations are changing. It’s likely that someone would purchase this kind of item (and those far more expensive) online, so why not from a glamorous vending machine? And think of how well the company profits from this sales model. No staff, no bricks and mortar location, just a simple transaction where the customer sees what they want and buys it. The only responsibilities of the company are to keep the machine stocked, update the interface from time-to-time and collect the money. It’s brilliant really, if you think about it.
But is it just a short-term cash-grab? Can a vending machine like this last?
Most likely this machine is seen as retailing a high-end luxury item to be taken home and enjoyed or given as a gift. Certainly there is a novelty aspect to the purchase. Imagine telling your friends you bought caviar from a vending machine, but beyond that novelty aspect is a purchase that fills a need beyond an expensive souvenir or gag gift.
All in all, it’s a case of clever marketing in the right location in a way that sells something people don’t really need, but want none-the-less.