The idea of healthy vending is not new, but success in the industry is. Most traditional vending operators think healthy vending will fail because they have been doing it the wrong way. To guarantee success in the healthy vending industry, it is necessary to follow these simple 5 rules.
#1 Healthy Vending Machines Must Stand Out
It is impossible to distinguish yourself as a health food vending operator if you operate machines that look like traditional junk food dispensers. If your machine doesn’t stand out in the crowd and scream “I am different!” you will not attract health-conscious customers. Health-conscious customers won’t bother to look in a traditional vending machine because they know there is nothing for sale they will eat. If your machines don’t look fresh, clean, and hi-tech, the health-conscious crowd you are targeting will not give your machines a second look. Spend the money on a new high-tech vending machine, it may cost a bit more get up and running but it is the only way you can expect success.
#2 Don’t Combine Healthy Snacks/Drinks With Junk Food
Hungry people lack self control. A hungry customer may walk towards a vending machine intending to eat a bag of pita chips, but when they get there and see a Twix bar staring them in the face their stomach gets the best of them. There is a reason that millions of dollars are spent every year on junk food marketing, it works! Those TV commercials have conditioned us to believe these items actually make us feel good. 15 minutes after the candy or chips are gone, the customer is filled with regret, and the healthy items are still your machines. Combining junk food with health food will cannibalize your sales of healthy items. Keep them separate for massive success!
#3 Healthy Vending Is About The Experience
Just like a traditional health food store, it is all about creating a higher-end, better experience for your customers. Think of your machines as “automated retail health stores” instead of merely vending machines. Think out of the box when creating your product mix and don’t be afraid to experiment with items that traditionally haven’t been vended. Think about your customers needs and wants and develop a plan to provide these.
Example #1 If your machine is in a gym, think about the people in the gym and their needs: workout towels, water bottles, Mp3 players, protein drinks, Nike + items, recovery tablets, etc. All these items can be vended and will sell to people who are in a gym.
Example #2 If you are sitting in a hospital chances are you are feeling one of two ways; either you sick, or you are worried about getting sick because you are surrounded by sick people. What will sell to people who are sick or worried about getting sick? Try placing immune boosting supplements and hand sanitizers in your machines. Think about what items will provide value for your customers, and then provide those items!
#4 Find The Right Location
Healthy Vending Machines will not be successful everywhere, so don’t place your machines in locations that are destined to fail. Kids play areas that already have candy machines are an example of a high traffic areas that would not be a great location for a healthy vending machine. Children armed with quarters probably can’t be trusted to make healthy choices when they are surrounded by machines that dispense candy and toys. Some great locations for healthy vending machines include schools, gyms, health-conscious companies, and hospitals. The key is to place your machines in high traffic areas filled with health-conscious people. Use common sense and analyze your clientele. Your local dive bar is probably not going to be a stellar place to push your healthy snacks and drinks!
#5 Develop Creative Healthy Vending Solutions
Because eating healthy is something that will improve all aspects of your life, make sure to develop plans to encourage people to make good choices. It has been proven time and time again, healthy employees are more productive and cost much less to insure than unhealthy employees, so convince your corporate locations to subsidize healthy products to increase uptake. This can be part of an overall wellness plan that integrates healthy vending machines with nutrition seminars and yoga workouts. The sky is the limit, any integrated wellness plans you can develop as an operator will help your pitch to top locations. If you plan to place machines in schools, think about offering a young entrepreneurship program that allows students to run the machines themselves. This is the best of both worlds, students are eating healthy and learning how to run a business, and as an operator you are gaining profitable school contracts. Creativity makes money!