Matthew Miller
Mar 26, 2014

Carat promotes 'Magic box' that melds vending and social experiences

SHANGHAI - Carat China's 'Magic Box' resembles a vending machine in shape. But rather than dispensing low-value products, the WeChat-aware device provides brands with a platform to provide fun experiential purchase opportunities, according to the media agency.

Carat promotes 'Magic box' that melds vending and social experiences

The Magic Box, announced officially today but first demonstrated at SXSW earlier this month (where Mondelez International's Bonin Bough lent some of his enthusiasm to the concept), has garnered interest from major brands, according to Carat China.

The machine features large displays on three sides, but is controlled via the consumer's mobile phone rather than through a touchscreen interface. 

In addition to purchasing a product using Weixin (WeChat) payment modes, a consumer can use the Magic Box to purchase a gift in one city for a friend to retrieve at a Magic Box in another city, the agency said.

The concept grew, according to a spokesperson, out of conversations with a client that was looking for a fun way to reach out and sell to consumers, and specifically hoping to counteract a drop in impulse purchases made at cashier stands (because consumers in cashier queues never look up from their phones anymore).  

Other claimed advantages of the platform, which the agency said will begin rolling out in June, are that it provides an innovative experiential opportunity to increase brand affinity and enables unique gifting scenarios. For example, the agency suggested that consumers will enjoy the opportunity to "advertise themselves" by sending Valentine's greetings or even proposals using both social media and the public-space device itself.

Using the platform would also provide brands with first-hand consumer intelligence from vending transactions as well as purchase and social details for retargeting purposes, the agency said.

“It is not merely a vending machine but a box filled with 'magic' that connects consumers, their purchase and their social communities wherever they are," said Stella Jamie Lui, general manager of digital at Carat China. "We are looking forward to delivering more mobile and social innovations to consumers in the future.” 


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