Japan has over 5.6 million vending machines and companies large and small use the vending machine as a way to reach customers from a variety of marketing standpoints. Vending machines in rural areas offer the consumer a 24-hour a day purchasing option where brick-and-mortar shops have closed or don’t exist. Companies also use the machines as an unconventional way to sell specialized products, introduce and test the popularity of new goods and even just to distribute free marketing literature. During June of 2008, visitors to the shopping and entertainment district of Shibuya, Tokyo were awed by Smart Car’s offering of a full-scale eco-Smart Car.
Pushing the button on the vendor won’t exactly pop out a car, but it does dispense a branded tube containing pamphlets on the new models, dealer information, and a sheet of Smart Car stickers featuring the available colors.
Now the big question: Will the Smart Car become a hit in Japan? One would think “yes” because of limited space, but cutting the car in half still won’t give us anywhere else to park unless the parking spaces are cut in half as well. However, with rising gas prices and a burgeoning Eco movement in Japan, it just might make the dent it wants to.