Here at Consumerist, we’ve been slightly obsessed for most of the last decade with the Coke Freestyle machine, a contraption that lets customers add a startling variety of flavors to their soft drinks. (Pepsi has a competing super-fountain, the Spire.) What we didn’t know is that Coca-Cola has been using the devices to collect data on what beverages we want, and then giving them to us.
That’s the origin story of Sprite Cherry and Sprite Cherry Zero, which will be the first products to join the permanent Coca-Cola lineup based on Freestyle machine data.
Bobby Oliver, the director of Sprite & Citrus Brands for Coke, which is an actual job title, told Buzzfeed’s Venessa Wong that the advantage of using Freestyle data is that the data comes from real customers drinking real beverages, not from market research surveys or people ticking a box. “There’s proven data that people actually love it,” Oliver said.
Freestyle machines offer a variety of fruit flavors that customers can add to their drinks, and cherry Sprite apparently beat out peach or strawberry. Freestyle machines give the company evidence that no one can argue with, and cherry colas are a popular product. It makes sense.
As consumers become more interested in beverages that aren’t soda, like water, juice, and iced tea, will the Freestyle machines adapt? A nice peach-flavored seltzer would probably be a hit in the machines.