food and beverages

Coca-Cola Jumps On The Rideshare Commerce Bandwagon

The Coca-Cola Company is joining a growing number of brands dipping their toes into selling — or sampling — their products in rideshare cars.

Coca-Cola has signed with in-car commerce platform Cargo, starting with sampling of its Glaceau Smartwater in Uber and Lyft cars serving its headquarters market of Atlanta.  

Atlanta is a new market for Cargo, and its first in the Southeast. The company, which launched in June 2017, already serves New York, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C.., and Baltimore. It says it plans to use a new round of $5.5 million in venture funding to expand into more markets this year, to reach about 25 million passengers across 20,000 vehicles in total.

RxBar, whose parent company was acquired last September by The Kellogg Company, also signed with Cargo for in-car distribution in Atlanta.



Some of the other snack brands available in cars in some markets include Sour Patch Kids, Extra, Altoids, BelVita, Clif Bars and Goodness Knows. Other typical convenience products available are phone chargers and headache and hangover remedies.

Drivers can opt to earn additional money by putting one of the product displays on the center console of their cars, at no cost to them. They receive a 25% commission on each sale, plus a $1 base for each passenger that buys something, according to Atlanta Business Journal.

To use the system, passengers use their mobile phones to go to Cargo’s mobile menu URL, type in the ID number on the display in the car (each display has a unique ID), browse the menu, and pay with a credit card or mobile payment option. For safety, drivers must stop the car in order to dispense the item to the passenger.

Brands are, of course, increasingly eager to drive growth through distribution channels outside of traditional brick-and-mortar. Many CPG makers are investing heavily in developing direct-to-consumer e-commerce businesses and selling through online marketplaces.

Ridesharing, while still new as an e-commerce and advertising opportunity, is attractive because of its soaring growth, particularly among coveted Millennial and Gen Z audiences. It also offers a captive audience perhaps looking for something to do, or craving some snack or convenience item. Plus, it enables capturing a wealth of consumer and other marketing data — including what kinds of products appeal to passengers with various demographic characteristics when they are coming and going from various types of destinations, at various times of the day and night.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the impact we have on rideshare passengers when they find our product within arm’s reach when using Uber and Lyft,” John Carroll, vice president and general manager of e-commerce for Coca-Cola, said in the announcement for the Atlanta deal with Cargo. The channel “offers an innovative solution to helping Coca-Cola deliver refreshment to consumers in their moment of need in a space previously hard to reach at scale.”

“People are spending more and more time in their cars and in ridesharing vehicles, and we want to be there,” Carroll elaborated to Variety. “We look at this as a first step.”

Indeed: Brands are already salivating at the potential for advertising and selling to consumers once self-driving vehicles begin to become a daily reality.

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