This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

January 4, 2006

A Magic Marriage

Pizza is a well-loved food around the world, enjoyed with variations in many countries.

Vending machines are also popular around the globe among people seeking convenience in their lives. Consumers purchase soft drinks, candy, postage stamps, phone cards, sundries, and even articles of clothing from vending machines around the clock.

Now the two have come together. Meet WonderPizza. This Livonia, Michigan-based company is attracting attention because their technology has found a way to sell a recognized brand-name tasty pizza, made-to-order, through an $18,0000 vending machine. America's favorite food will now be available even more conveniently, without microwave preparation. The machine automatically chooses the oldest nine-inch pizza in the machine so the fast-moving inventory stays fresh.

WonderPizza projects dramatic growth based on anticipated demand, receptivity, quality, and trends. Executives expect to have more retail units than even the largest of the global pizza chains. Understandable, when your delivery is in a machine that is much smaller, less expensive, and more convenient around-the-clock than a brick-and-mortar site. Before long, we'll see these dispensers in shopping areas, worksites, college campuses, roadside stops, convention centers, and just about anywhere else enough people congregate.

Trends suggest they are right on target. Vending machines are becoming even more ubiquitous. High end machines now sell Reebok footwear, I-POD electronics, and even panties in Japan. Hot Choice and Hot Bites machines sell wholesome hot meals; Caribou Coffee just unveiled a $10,000 coffee machine. People in developed countries, leading more active lives, are hungry for convenience. Vending machines contribute to that ease of living, so the trend is here to stay. The proliferation of Anytime Banking Machines and automatic ordering machines at fast food restaurants are testimony to consumer receptivity to purchasing without dealing with other people.

Will WonderPizza face competition? No doubt. We will probably see another purveyor before long, probably in close proximity. If Coke and Pepsi can co-exist in this environment,trends suggest we'll see more automatic vendors for a diverse menu of healthy foods. If consumers remain receptive to this convenience retailing, we could be on the threshold of a stronger self-serve era.

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