As consumers continue to reduce their soda consumption and transition towards drinking more water and natural juices, the pop industry is scrambling to innovate their products in order to make up for lost sales. With millennial consumers climbing their way up to becoming the most wanted consumer demographic in the food industry, food companies are targeting their values specifically. Pepsico is taking their marketing initiatives out of retail stores and directly to their target consumers by installing Aquafina Water Stations at college and university campuses.
The beverage giant is currently testing 30 Aquafina Water Stations in locations such as Penn State University, which is currently home to three of these prototypes. Half of the machines provide free refills while the other half charge $1.39 for 32oz. refills. The Aquafina Water Stations dispense both sparkling and still water with flavor options such as peach or raspberry lime. Pepsico plans to gather data from the consumer behavior around the machines in order to understand consumer preferences and what people are looking for in a water dispensing machine.
Students can select their desired flavors from a touch screen on the machine. Once a flavor and water type are selected, the machine dispenses the zero-calorie water beverage into a refillable personal container. These customizable features will allow Pepsico to gather information on the most popular flavors among millennials as well as their preferences on sparkling or still beverages. In addition, the company can measure how millennials behave around water products that are free or come with a charge.
This new campaign positions Pepsico as a company that cares for the well-being of students. Universities are promoting these new machines as an initiative to increase water consumption in students. However, the main goal is to increase brand awareness and promote future sales of Aquafina products. By placing these machines directly in the locations where millennial consumers are regularly found, Pepsico has a high chance of making Aquafina water a trendy item. The move comes after the company launched their own line of canned sparkling water beverages.
However, Pepsico is not the only company investing in marketing to millennials through on-campus promotions. Last year, Coca-Cola tested free Dasani water fountains that charged only for flavored or carbonated options. Their PureFill machines were also connected to a smartphone app that allowed students to locate their nearest machine.
“Young people, especially college students, always have two things with them throughout the day – a water bottle and a smartphone,” Jeffrey Busch, Director of equipment Commercialization for Coca-Cola North America told Just Drinks. “We’re trying to dial into those habits and add value to a water brand they know and love with a unique solution for on-the-go hydration.”
According to Beverage Marketing Corporation, water has surpassed carbonated soft drinks to become the biggest beverage category in the US. This is primarily because consumers prefer more natural options when it comes to food and beverage choices. Pepsico and Coca-Cola seem to be ahead of the game with their water dispensing machines which can increase brand awareness and provide valuable insights into the coveted millennial demographic.