PepsiCo Tests Smart Cans, AI for Better Personalization

PepsiCo Tests Smart Cans, AI for Better Personalization

At Cannes Lions, the marketer showed off a new AI Hydration Coach for Gatorade and a connected device for Pepsi inspired by its can shape.

Cannes Lions wrapped up Friday. It is an annual gathering honoring the best in advertising, effectively serving as the industry’s Oscars. This year, PepsiCo used the event to preview new experiments that meld marketing, design, and technology, focusing on leveling up personalization.

Gatorade’s AI Hydration Coach taps into the tech of the moment—and talk of the festival—applying AI to educate users about the best ways to stay hydrated through an assistant that draws on decades of historical data from the sports beverage brand’s research institute. The concept leans into the idea that AI can democratize once-exclusive services, giving everyday consumers expert guidance usually reserved for elite athletes.

At Cannes Lions, Anna was available via a touchscreen interface and presented as a virtual avatar wearing a shirt and blazer. Users could ask specific questions related to their hydration needs and more lighthearted ones, like what Anna’s favorite flavor of Gatorade is. A spokesperson said that the AI Hydration Coach is aiming for a pilot in a few markets in either late 2024 or early 2025 to eventually engage consumers at different online and physical touchpoints like in-store displays.

Sister brand Pepsi’s innovation toyed with the iconography of the soda can, reinventing it as an “interactive portal” equipped with digital screens, cutting-edge sound technology, and motion sensors. The marketer positioned the Smart Can — which, despite its shape, does not contain soda — to deliver personalized experiences to fans and potentially send exclusive assets, such as access codes.

Also Read: How AI Can Enhance, Not Replace, Customer Experience

Smart Cans will factor into future Pepsi promotions with creators in gaming, sports, and more, though they are not currently available to purchase at retail. The Smart Can marketing efforts timeline wasn’t immediately clear, beyond Pepsi having more to share in the coming months.

Pepsi’s efforts to push the envelope on consumer tech come as it recently lost a long-held spot as the No. 2 soda brand in the U.S. to Dr Pepper. Marketing chief Todd Kaplan, a company veteran, departed the brand in June.