It is unusual that I go to a fast food restaurant and see something fun and innovative, but it happened yesterday at Burger King.  Instead of the standard fountain pop station that you see at restaurants, gas stations and cafeterias everywhere, I was greeted by a new ultra-modern soda dispensing machine:

This machine gave Burger King’s slogan of “Have it Your Way” a new dimension.  With just the touch of a button, I could have one of 24 primary flavors (Coke, Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, etc.)  But the fun really started after you made the selection, as it gave you access to dozens of other variations on that main ingredient.  For example, Diet Coke could become Cherry Diet Coke, Raspberry Diet Coke, lime, cherry vanilla, vanilla or orange.  Sprite was peach, grape, raspberry, strawberry, vanilla, orange or cherry.  And you, the Drink Master Extraordinaire, could make your own personalized concoction with any proportion you desired.  In other words, no two drinks ever need be alike.

It was also interesting to me that a) I learned how to use this high-tech gizmo from a 75 year old man, who was quite experienced and enthusiastic about its potential and b) I witnessed a 6 year old boy, also a veteran, who knew exactly which buttons he wanted his dad to push and what sub-flavor he wanted.  So much for being too complicated!

Whether you are in the restaurant industry or not, what Coke and Burger King have done is to elevate the expectations of YOUR consumers for a growing element of choice and personalization.   How are you going to respond?

— beth triplett

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