Traditional vending machines are dying off like snack food dinosaurs after a meteor strike. But in this case, the meteor is just that less people want to buy chips and gum from a machine. Between 2007 and 2010,134,000 vending machines disappeared from locations in the U.S.
Sales sank too, says the Wall Street Journal, more than 11% in that same period, to $42.2 billion. That’s still a lot of Kit Kats, but not enough to keep the industry alive forever. Now entrepreneurs are trying to refresh the vending machine business, with new high-tech machines and products like prescription drugs, live bait for fishing, electronics and art. Those alternative machines currently only account for 5% of all vending machies.
At first consumers are a bit skeptical of such quirky offerings, but hey, if the night crawlers aren’t in the same machine as the M&Ms, and they can catch a fish, why not?
Traditional snack machines are fading from popularity for a combination of factors: Junk food and soda are looked down upon as unhealthy more than in the past; the recession left many break rooms at offices empty and many kids these days don’t carry the cash required to insert in machines. It’s all about plastic, and only the newest machines accept credit cards.
Stealing from existing vending machines doesn’t help anything, either.
Restocking the Old Vending Machine With Live Bait and Prescription Pills [Wall Street Journal]