PepsiCo has rolled out what it deems a “social” vending machine, which allows customers to buy drinks for friends, who receive a redemption code by text and use it to pick up their soda at any other social vending machine. The machine also has a “Random Acts of Refreshment” mode, just in case you really want to give a complete stranger in another city a can of Pepsi.
The new machine allows customers to record videos for their recipients, and encourages them to continue picking up the tab for friends and strangers:
PepsiCo’s Social Vending System enables any user to gift a friend by selecting a beverage and entering the recipient’s name, mobile number and a personalized text message. There’s also the option to further personalize the gift with a short video recorded right at the machine. … When the recipient redeems their gift, they’re given the option of either thanking the original sender with a gift of their own or paying it forward and gifting a beverage to another friend.
Pepsi says that the social vending concept “transforms a static, transaction-oriented experience into something fun and exciting they’ll want to return to, again and again.” Which might be true, if you’re the recipient of enough free drinks from random, generous strangers, but the experience could start to wear a little thin for those strangers if they don’t get any thank-you drinks in return.