Sometimes when you are thirsty and you’re simply looking for a refreshing drink, it will seem as if there is not a store or restaurant you can get anything from nearby. Yet, somehow, you still end up being able to score a cool beverage to satisfy your cravings after you embark on a search of sorts. In the aforementioned scenario, how would you obtain a cold drink when it seems there are no other options. A Vending Machine, more likely than not, would be the only option open when a store and restaurant is not accessible for whatever plethora of reasons.
Why vending machines? Perhaps it’s late at night or early in the morning, perhaps it’s at your work or hotel, or perhaps it’s just a great time to have a cool drink and you’re near a machine you can quickly access refreshments from. Alternatively, maybe you’re wanting to run a small vending machine business of your own and you’re wondering how to decide what drinks to stock in a beverage vending machine in 2024?
Whatever the case, have you ever noticed how sometimes it seems like almost all vending machines have similar drinks?
Well, there’s a few reasons behind that. First of all, vending machine operators typically try to focus on beverages that are known to be strong sellers because it’s important to carry the popular drinks which it’s been proven the public loves and enjoys. Second, another reason most vending machines seem to be stocked with similar options is because of the 2 big beverage companies (Coca Cola and PepsiCo) that dominate the drink industry. Because everything is so concentrated between “Coke” and “Pepsi” owned products, estimates indicate easily 80%+ of vending machine beverages in the USA are supplied in tandem by these 2 drink behemoths in some fashion. Third, believe it or not, most vending machines are configured to only distribute certain sizes of beverages. Even with machines that are adjustable, it’s not that easy to do. Lastly, while not every vending operator strives for the same goals, many do understand that consistency with the same products being available regularly will help customers trust they can visit the same machine for the same drink whenever they’re in need. With this handful of simple tidbits of information in mind, it should come as no surprise to think you’ll find 5-10 of the same drinks over and over again in many vending machines across the USA.
However, while the most popular vending machine beverages are fairly transparent on a national scale- it is a different story globally, because there is vast variety sold from vending machines already in other parts of the world- so it’s harder to gauge the most popular choices when analyzing vending machine drinks on a global scale.
Now, since you’re already an expert on how vending machine beverages are selected and stocked- let’s dive deeper to look at 9 of the most popular vending machine drinks in 2024.
9 Top Drinks Sold In Vending Machines 2024
1 Coca Cola
According to statistics compiled by Market.Us, Coca Cola dominates the US Carbonated Beverage industry with more than 42% market share. What’s even more incredible about Coca Cola is the fact that the company also reports that USA/North America accounts for roughly only 34% of their sales while the company generated more than $45 Billion USD in 2023 Gross Revenue. If those numbers sound outrageous, it should be remembered that Coca Cola is the #1 selling soft drink of all time across the world and they also have many other popular beverages in the company portfolio.
PepsiCo, which also owns Frito Lays and has a massive snack presence in addition to Pepsi, Gatorade and the entire beverage division, also generated gargantuan amounts of money in 2023 with revenue of more than $91 Billion USD. However, when it comes solely to carbonated soft drinks, Pepsi is slightly behind Coke in terms of overall market share with closer to 20%.
3 Diet Coke
For those that love the Coca Cola taste while choosing a different formulation, Diet Coke is also very popular in vending machines and other sales outlets across the USA and beyond.
Sometimes a lighter carbonated beverage is able to appeal to the consumer’s eye and pocketbook, and this classic beverage with no caffeine (and similar varieties) is a staple in vending machines everywhere.
5 Red Bull/ Monster (Energy Drinks)
Working, partying, traveling, or just needing a jolt through a long day- there are many times when people love to find a vending machine with energy drinks. And who can blame anyone wanting to feel a little extra something when they drink their drink. Flavor, convenience, and partially in part because of convenience stores and vending machines, these are some of the reasons why Red Bull, as an independent company, and Monster (also independent), are such popular choices amongst consumers. Between the 2, it’s safe to say they essentially run the energy drink industry.
6 Bottled Water
Aquafina, Dasani, Nestle Pure Life, Fiji, Smart Water, Voss, and many more options exist today when you are considering bottled water choices. However, the first 3 on the list are the most common options that can be found in vending machines because of size and price feasibility. Essentially, these brands make bottles small enough and cheap enough so that they can be sold through vending machines. Overall, while the brand may change from machine to machine, it’s safe to say that bottled water is a very popular vending machine choice amongst the public because oftentimes people simply want hydration.
7 Gatorade/ Powerade (Sports Drinks)
Especially at gyms and other areas of athletic activity, you can be guaranteed to find Gatorade or Powerade- or both- somewhere nearby. Many people have their favorite flavors but can typically get by with whatever color is in the nearest machine when they’re in a pinch. Certainly, now that more vending machines are enabled to take certain sizes of Sports Drinks, these popular beverages are a staple of vending machine culture while being a more expensive “premium” option as compared to soft drinks. But, when you have to quench your thirst, only the beverage you’re seeking will do.
8 Dr. Pepper
For those that love Dr. Pepper, there’s no replacement for the 23 unique flavors that comprise this beverage. Loyal to their favorite soda in the same way some people are loyal to sports teams, Dr. Pepper fans simply won’t stand for the substitute most of the time… or they certainly won’t like it if they do have to settle for something else.
9 Mountain Dew
Lovers of “the Dew” rarely deviate from their favorite beverage in the same way Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper, and other drinks have their loyal followings. Adding to the popularity of Mountain Dew is the brand’s ability to create various different flavors, oftentimes on limited releases, which makes fans old and new alike pick up a few extra sips each year when they have to try the newest iteration.
Certainly, there are many different great drinks around the world, and this is not meant to be a definitive list, however it is a fairly accurate indication of what most vending machines will likely stock if they have 9-10 slots in the beverage area. Whenever you’re out seeking a cold drink and the store, restaurants, and bars are all closed, hopefully you can find a vending machine nearby. When you do find cold drinks near you, chances are high you’ll see some- or all- of the drinks listed here. After all, you’re basically a vending machine expert now that you know 9 of the most popular vending machine drinks in 2024.