Vending Machine Market in Japan: Key Research Findings 2020
Yano Research Institute (the President, Takashi Mizukoshi) has carried out a survey on the domestic market of vending machines, and found out the trends by market players (vending machine makers, vending machine operators, makers of products sold via vending machines), the trends by products sold via vending machines, the trends by location (installation sites), and the future perspectives.
According to the Japan Vending System Manufacturers Association, number of automatic vending machines (referred to as ‘vending machines’ hereafter) and the number of automatic service machines prevalent in the country as of the end of 2019 decreased to lower 4 million range, 4,149,100 units, which is 98.0% of the previous year. Viewing at the beverage vending machines, which accounts for almost 60% of the total, numbers dropped in all categories, including soft drinks (cans/PET bottles), milk (paper cartons), coffee/cocoa (cups), and alcohol/beer.
Out of these, the vending machines for soft drinks (cans and PET bottles), which accounts for the majority of the market, is oversaturated in terms of location (installation site); moreover, owing to pressures on profit and labor shortage, vending machine operators are reinforcing relocation of underperforming vending machines. As a result, beverage makers became more circumspective on expanding the number of vending machines, the direction which led to decline in the number of vending machines installed.
This trend is likely to continue for some time, and since new installations have been delayed due to influence of COVID-19 infections, the number of vending machines installed as of the end of 2020 is expected to drop to 97.6% of the previous year, 4,050,000 units. Considering current status of locations, for the time being, it is assumed that the number of vending machines will continue to decrease at an annual rate of around 1%.
Trends of Vending Machines with Network Accessibility
As the vending machine market is on the decline, profitability per machine has lowered and expenses escalated in personnel cost, distribution cost, and recycling cost. As a workaround, companies have been supplying vending machines with network connectivity to improve sales per machine as well as streamlining operations. For the sake of enhancing vending machine business, it is a common challenge for the entire industry to improve operating efficiency and productivity.
Vending machine operators, affiliated companies of large beverage makers in particular, have been establishing systems for network vending machines. While beverage makers have taken a lead in developing consumer services which works with smartphone apps, in recent years, the trends of introducing artificial intelligence (AI) technology to improve operational efficiency is also noted.
While COVID-19 calamity continues, there is room for reconsidering new business opportunity for vending machines installed outdoor; reevaluation is expected on the value of machines which were considered underperforming and therefore were targets of termination or relocation.
Nevertheless, as indoor vending machines still exceed outdoor vending machines for profitability and productivity, vending machine operators are likely to keep their emphasis on making improvements on profitability per indoor vending machine and finding new location for installation.
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