I would like to talk about an item that is not too commonly seen in our daily routine, but can be a life saver when you are caught in an unexpected rain with no umbrella in hands – The Umbrella Vending Machine.
The above pictures show two different umbrella vending machines located in two different cities: Hong Kong, and Vancouver Canada. First, can you guess which machine was found in which city?
The blue vending machine was sighted at a busy shopping mall in Hong Kong. In fact, I have seen the same machine in multiple malls, meaning that it is quite common to everyday lives, just like drink and snack vending machines.
The other grey vending machine was sighted at the Vancouver International Airport. As far as I know, this is the only umbrella machine I’ve seen in the entire city of Vancouver. Judging from the dispensing mechanism (the metal coil that rotates to push items out) and the chassis, I am positive that it is modified from a snack vending machine.
Graphic Design / Communication:
Needless to say, Hong Kong beats Vancouver in terms of colour usage, attractiveness, information richness and presentation. My experience was that, it was really hard to spot the Vancouver umbrella machine before I knew about it.
Just for the fun of it, I queried Wolfram|Alpha for the annual precipitation of Vancouver and Hong Kong, just to see how necessary umbrella is. By no mean this is a scientific research analysis, nor taking into consideration of the other thousand factors that affect umbrella sales. But well, looks like both cities rain quite a bit, so it’d be a healthy business to sell people some umbrellas.
Wolfram|Alpha query: “precipitation | Vancouver, Canada vs Hong Kong”
- Since Vancouver rains quite a lot, it is likely that people would need to take umbrellas with them when getting outside. Therefore, placing the umbrella vending machine in high volume public places, such as Sky-train/CanadaLine station would be a good start.
- What about colour choices? Do Vancouverists not care about fashion and style? I am sure that, just like iPod and M&M’s, offering multiple colours can encourage personalization, and hence reenforcing the product brand and increasing sales. And it’s cheap to do so.
- And it’s amazing to see the Hong Kong umbrella even has 180 days of warranty!