Green Mountain Coffee's Keurig machine allows users to make one cup of coffee at a time. A new product from Green Mountain, due out in the next year or so, will do the same for cold beverages — including Coca-Cola, thanks to a new partnership announced this week.
But how eager are we to make our own soda pop? What's in it for us?
Variety and personalization, says Bob Goldin, from the food-industry consulting groupTechnomic. He says that's one of the things that makes Starbucks so successful with coffee. Skim or whole milk? What roast? Half-caff?
"And double-shot, triple-shot, and then you probably have 10 to 15 different kinds of syrups," he says. "So this is higher math, but the number of options is almost mind-boggling."
Coke offers this now with "freestyle" vending machines in some fast-food restaurants. They allow you to dispense yourself a custom cocktail—so, if mixing Mr. Pibb and Mello Yello is your thing, you can knock yourself out. The company says that stores with those machines report higher sales. So, OK, variety.
Gary Hemphill, director of research for Beverage Marketing Corporation, adds convenience to the list. Maybe. Instead of lugging home cases of cans or two-liters from the store, consumers can stock up on pods.
"You get the ability to keep basically an endless supply," he says. "And then you don’t have to worry about recycling the containers."
These don’t sound like compelling reasons for people to buy a soda-making machine to Harry Balzer, who watches consumer behavior—like, the foods and drinks we consume—for NPD.
"This has the feel of 'Why would I want to make this, again? It better save me an awful lot of money,'" says Balzer.
He thinks the main reason people might buy this machine is what motivated people to buy bread machines 20 years ago.
"Which, to me, was: We just have no more gifts to give our parents," he says. "This kind of has the same feel to me. We have no more gifts to give anybody, so: Give 'em a soda maker!"
And in a few years, they can toss it in the attic.