What was the last item you purchased from a vending machine? Most consumers purchase convenience items such as drinks and snacks at the ubiquitous machines. Maybe in an airport or mall there might be a vending machine for electronics such as headphones and chargers, movies, or prepared meals for people on the go. And, speaking of “on the go”……..
Alibaba’s Tmall recently unveiled what is possibly the world’s largest vending machine, for the world’s largest car market. The product sold in the machines? Cars!
The automobile vending machine, located in Guangzhou, China, is a partnership between Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba and American car manufacturer Ford Motor. The program offers a three-day test-drive to potential customers shopping for a new car. The giant vending machine contains more than 100 vehicles, including small cars, family cars, sports cars, and SUVs. Cars include those made in China as well as imported from the U.S. The goal for the new program is to improve the car buying process for consumers.
The process starts with a mobile app (of course) called the “Super Test-Drive” app. Consumers use the app to research, browse available models, and select a car and pick-up time. Snapping a selfie picture provides facial recognition that is used to confirm the booking and borrow the car from the vending machine. And, if the customer’s credit score is good enough, then the three-day test-drive is free.
This sounds a lot more fun than just getting a snack from the local vending machine!
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Poll students: Where are vending machines? What do they buy form vending machines? Why buy from vending machines?
- View video of the process: https://youtu.be/zFDDcTOFkEA
- While the buying process may vary slightly for different products and target markets, the basic 5-step process remains the same: problem recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, and post-purchase behavior.
- Does this vending machine fit the model? Or does the model need to change?
- Consider assigning different student groups to work on different target markets. Then the process for the different target markets can be compared and contrasted.
Source: Brandchannel.com (26 March, 2018). Alibaba and Ford launch China’s first Tmall car vending machine.