Selling cosmetics by vending machine?

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In Japan you can find all sorts of things for sale in vending machines. Since I’ve lived in Hong Kong however, I’ve never seen an explosion of this sort of retailing in the city. So it came as a surprise to encounter a lonely looking vending machine while walking through Silvercord shopping center last week.

The vending machine had a traditional 1920’s era graphic of two girls covering the outside.

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The image looked like a cigarette ad from old Shanghai, the type that tourists purchase on “antique” posters featuring beauties from the time period. On closer inspection, the image actually represented the logo of a brand of cosmetics, Two Girls.

This sort of vintage look doesn’t really match a vending machine. Vending machines typically denote a sort of modern, mechanized and impersonal shopping experience. You don’t normally associate this type of experience with female shoppers. Further, a product like cosmetics would usually require the purchaser to read the labels and check the ingredients, which isn’t possible from inside a machine. Typical products that are sold in this way are ultra well known products. Perhaps the cosmetics are well known, however if I were a shopper unfamiliar with the brand, not being able to read the label and study the product would be a major impediment to sale.

The location of the machine was also somewhat off. It was buried near the side of an escalator in an alternative entrance to the shopping center.

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Yet another factor to consider, does the product match the target consumer of the youth-oriented Silvercord mall?

So in essence, the product, the brand image, the target consumer, the location of the machine and the technology all need to be considered when selling a product by vending machine. In this case, the factors appear to be a bad match.

8 Comments

  • hey there! can’t remember if i’ve commented before but i like your blog and figured it’s time to say hello! anyway, i don’t remember the name of the shopping center, but there’s another one of those vending machines i believe in the same building as the movie theater/planet yoga women shopping center that is across the street from ikea in cwb.

  • Hi Deb!

    Thanks for your comment. The shopping center across from Ikea is called Windsor House in English. I’ll take a look next time I’m there to see if I can spot the machine!

    I have a feeling the cosmetics company owns real estate as well, so perhaps it’s just experimenting with the vending machines in some of the properties it owns.

    Windsor House is a cool shopping center. It’s home to many stores selling Apple computers on the 10th or 11th floor. Plus there’s a Red Box karaoke there as well, and a Freshness Burger on the 1st floor. A big Toys R Us also calls the place home.

  • hi, can i knw behind of the machine, there is poster, do u knw wad is the brand? i looking for tht brand website.. thanks

  • I saw one just like that in HK in the Ferry Station!!!!
    This is Caro from Benos Aires. I’ve just arrived home after a month roaming the world..I’ll be writing to you soon. big kiss!!!

  • I would love to fill one of these machines with something else. Where can I find one to buy in the USA?

  • Do you know who is the manufacturer of the vending machine as I want to place an order for a design for cosmetics?

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