What if the Coffee was Free?

There is a pretty comprehensive look over on TrendWatching at what’s been going on in the past few years in terms of what I know think Anderson has successfully forced us to all call the “Freeconomy.”

One example it should had to do with some beverage companies attempts at working with advertisers to provide free or discount drinks:

Still in concept phase, Japanese vending machine operator Apex is looking into turning some of its beverage machines into a new medium for advertisers, who will pick up the partial or full cost of drinks. Apex runs 35,000 vending machines across Japan that serve drinks in paper cups, generally priced at 70 to 120 yen (USD 1.16 to USD 2.00) a cup. The MediCafe vending machine (the name combines media and coffee) will play an advertiser’s video for around the 30 seconds it takes to pour the drink and dispense a paper cup with an advertisement printed on it. Eventually, Apex hopes to install up to 35,000 MediCafe machines in large corporate offices, community centers, hospitals & rehab facilities, schools and roadside rest stops. Even if the MediCafe doesn’t materialize, this should be food for thought for other vending machine operators, and their food and beverage partners!”

How would things change if someone figured out how to turn a profit offering free coffee?  What would that do to Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts?  There is clearly a gigantic market for coffee drinkers and the many competitors are certainly going to drive the price down but offering it for free would really shake things up.

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