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Omnipresent Vending Machine | 18 april 2017

All HMSM students spend a five-month operational internship abroad in their second year of their study. Developing a Global Mind-set is one of the spearheads of our programme. Therefore, the students blog about their intercultural experiences. Take a minute to read the blog of Lena Kobayashi about his experience in Berlin!

Polite vending machines

Not only the quantity and the wide array of products is what makes the vending machines unique! A few days ago I went to go buy a drink. After hesitating between the 24h convenient store just 100m away and the equally nearby vending machine, I decided to buy something from the machine. I did not regret my decision when the machine suddenly greeted me, appreciated my order and wished me a productive day.

Just like this, various machines are offering enhanced service by greeting you, sometimes even giving you a recommendation based on the weather, your assessed gender and age, or having a virtual anime character chatting you up.

Service and convenience

How did it ever get this far? It all comes down to service and convenience. These are important factors in the Japanese culture. The vending machines are efficient and simple and can be found everywhere. Furthermore they often vary in products based on their location. As such you may a find a machine selling insect repellent in the middle of a mountain.

The machines are always available and fully stocked. The low crime rate ensures that they practically never are out of order or vandalized. As the Japanese lead very busy lives, this kind of service comes in handy.

No human interaction

Another aspect is that they don’t involve human interaction, as the Japanese society is based a lot on etiquettes. Buying from a machine doesn’t involve the effort of formal interaction. Lastly, Japan’s love for technology is involved. Anything that involves making life easier through technology augmented service has a chance of obtaining a key position in Japanese lives.

Of course vending machines can be found in almost every other country as well. However, I personally can't help but seeing most vending machines outside Japan as “just” vending machines.

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