Coca-Cola, BT test Wi-Fi vending machines in South Africa

Coca-Cola is once again out front on the mobile marketing scene. The company, along with British Telecom, is testing Wi-Fi-enabled vending machines in two communities in South Africa.

The partnership involves setting up Wi-Fi on Coca-Cola machines and providing free Internet access to citizens in Umtata in the Eastern Cape province and Nelspruit in the Mpumalanga province.

The idea is to give students and school children the chance to increase their knowledge through research and give entrepreneurs and small business owners the opportunity to manage some of their business aspects online.

The sites were chosen for their accessibility to maximize usage of technology by locals. Both spots are in the vicinity of shopping centers and schools. Internet access is free via Wi-Fi, and users are not required to buy anything.

"This is a really interesting idea and a great example of 'the Internet of things,' or in this case--a thing providing Internet," said David Kovacs, vice president of business development at GPShopper, told Mobile Marketer. "From a brand marketing perspective we have seen this before--think AT&T sponsoring Wi-Fi at Starbucks locations. 

"Providing Wi-Fi at supermarkets or gas stations would be an effective promotional tool for the Coca-Cola brand," he said. "It also doesn't hurt that in order for a customer to access Wi-Fi, they would need to be in proximity of a Coca-Cola vending machine."

Coca-Cola is installing the coolers while BT is providing design and support, connectivity and Internet access, as well as business training. The project involves Coca-Cola South Africa, Coca-Cola Fortune and BT Global Services, which all aim to grow the project and install Wi-Fi coolers in various parts of South Africa to help support communities.

A recent report from Adobe said more consumers choose to access the Web via Wi-Fi. Its data show more than 50 percent of smartphone browsing and 93 percent of tablet browsing now come from Wi-Fi rather than cellular networks, according to the 2014 Mobile Benchmark Report.

Mobile Marketer notes that Coca-Cola Australia this spring began testing a new type of interactive fridge that leverages augmented reality, facial recognition, social media and mobile to dole out relevant offers and content to specific consumers in-store. Coca-Cola also equipped its World of Coca-Cola attraction in Atlanta with beacons that work with a new mobile application for unlocking location-based content around specific areas.

For more:
- see this Mobile Marketer article

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