The Time Coca-Cola Invented A Vending Machine That Automatically Raised Prices On A Hot Day

Can you accept being charged more for a Coke on a hot day? Well, even though we all pay more for for all kinds of items when they are in great demand (airline tickets, books, electricity etc), i think the majority of us denounce the idea of paying more for can of Coke, isn’t it?

But this was exactly Coca-Cola’s plan a few years back.

In 1999, Coca Cola invented a vending machine that could adjust its prices based on the temperature, allowing it to hike up the price of a Coke on a hot, summer day. Melvin Douglas Ivester, then CEO of Coca-Cola, talked publicly about this “supply and demand law implementation” that would have worked by adjusting thermometers to vending machines. He even went on to say that it’s the “fair thing” to do: (the article continues after the ad)

M. Douglas Ivester, Photo: Creative Commons

“I think it would be fair to raise the price of soda on a summer day like today. Vending machines could be equipped with thermometers, and when demand for a cold soda rose with the temperature, the price would rise too, just as Economics 101.”

Despite never hitting the market, the variable price vending machine was one of the company’s worst marketing moments. As soon it was announced, the public went insane. Editorial as well as angry Coke drinkers denounced the idea in internet forums and chat rooms, while even Pepsi accused Coke of exploitation.

Coke responded by immediately abandoning the project. Spokesmen of the company said that Mr. Ivester was talking hypothetically and there were absolutely no plans of adding a summer surcharge. They added that Coca-Cola was actually looking for ways so their vending machines could lower the cost of a drink, not raise it.

Yeah, right.

In the years to come, no further plans for variable prices have been announced by the company and, given the consumer’s reaction, it’s not likely to hear something similar anytime soon. Nevertheless, this remains a perfect example of how big brands should be extremely careful when designing their pricing strategies.

If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: This Is What Happened When Three People Tried To Sell Coca Cola’s Secret Recipe To Pepsi 

Photos: Atlantis_C / Pixabay

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