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.[photopress:Two_Girls_cosmetic_Hong_Kon.jpg,full,pp_image]
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.[photopress:Silvercord_shopping_Hong_Ko.jpg,full,pp_image]
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.