Commercial ice trucks were common in the late 19th century when box refrigerators required inserting ice blocks to cool food and beverages. While modern ice sales have customers retrieving their own product, modern ice-vending operations offer blocks and cubes in machines throughout American communities. Marketing ice through vending operations requires an evaluation of the consumer market and a strategic plan for placing the ice machines at high-potential sales locations.
Identify Vending Machine Markets
Not all markets produce income for ice vending machines, and a marketing plan for one or more units must analyze the geographic region best suited for vended sales. Since ice machines require a health permit in some cities and counties that regulate ice as a food product, tracking the additional costs for health permits in the potential markets for your operations helps identify the most cost-effective markets. Using a physical map of potential markets for bagged ice with highlights for local parks, resorts and public playgrounds helps provide a visual of the potential market.
Complete Competitive Analysis
A competitive analysis for ice machines includes researching the types of machines available for rent or purchase in your geographic region. The next step includes talking with the companies renting or selling ice vending machines to compare and contrast terms of sale and rental agreements. Note options for protected markets when considering a rental or franchised ice unit. Compare your marketing identification inventory with the information collected from the vending companies to determine the best market approach.
Develop Overall Marketing Strategy
Use your initial marketing survey to highlight the traffic routes and foot traffic to and from the current ice vending locations along the routes. Identify potential markets with a high volume of car and foot traffic and investigate any current vending machines situated at these locations. Drive the routes and collect a list of the current ice machines, the vending company offering the ice and the physical address of the properties to complete the overall market strategy. Estimate the amount the amount of fresh ice sold daily at each location and note any potential seasonal changes. Observe a group of machines for several hours to verify your estimations. Factor in costs to place the ice-vending machine on concrete pads and fees to install electric power and water from nearby town or city utilities. Estimate also the fees to those accepting vending machine placements.
Develop Overall Sales Strategy
Develop an overall sales strategy for your ice vending machines. The appearance of the rental machines or your own units impacts the enticement to buy ice. Develop an advertising logo and ad campaign to provide public awareness of your brand. Work out a sales strategy to incorporate sales incentives and a bonus for advertisement placement at the vending machine locations. Contact local parks, athletic fields and campgrounds to inquire about the advertising possibilities and rates for posting signs and distributing advertising fliers at the venues.