Will consumers pay for carbonation and flavour when the water is free?

Coca-Cola is piloting a machine that provides users with free ultra-filtered water with the option of adding flavours and/or carbonation for a small fee.

The Dasani PureFill machine was a concept that emerged last year during a workshop hosted by Coca-Cola North America R&D and is now being trialed at the Georgia Institute of Technology campus.

Director of brand innovation at Coca-Cola North America, Kim Drucker, said: “The team recognised that hydration stations were being installed all over the place, especially on college campuses. And this represented an opportunity to enter the space of convenient, on-the-go hydration.”

Coke’s in-house Concept Design Centre built the prototype machine. Tom Perrin, who led the team of engineers, said: “The question we wanted to ask is ‘If flavours and carbonation were available with free water, would you buy them? And if so, how much would you pay?”

Dasani PureFill was constructed using a Lancer beverage dispenser, a Coke chiller and a bag-in-box (BIB) system for the flavours. A vacuum forming partner helped with the design of the machine’s exterior.

A custom-built smartphone app allows users to track their hydration and geo-locate a nearby machine, while the machine operates a cashless payment system.