During my time at R/GA Tokyo, I was given the opportunity to apply my learnings through a self-directed pitch for Coca-Cola Japan. The pitch involves addressing the company's contribution to plastic pollution and cultural frictions in Japan through the lens of experience design.

The documentation below focuses on the research and strategy of the project.


Coca-Cola alone is responsible for a sixth of all plastic bottles sold around the world, as they revealed it used three million tonnes of plastic packaging in 2017.

In response to the backlash the company received from their use of plastic, Coca-Cola shared their vision to use 100% recyclable material for their bottles and achieve a 90% Bottle-to-Bottle production ratio by the year 2030.

Business Opportunity

There are over 5.5 million vending machines in Japan—one for every 23 people, the highest ratio in the world—but companies struggle to attract younger people to vending machines since these generation of people grew up during the rise of convenience stores. Japan now has a convenience store in every other block, and people actually prefer buying at convenience stores because it's cheaper, closer, and has a variety of products.

Despite this growth in convenience stores, vending machines are still an ubiquitous cultural artifact that are commonly used by the Japanese population. Coca-Cola leads the market by owning 27% of vending machines in Japan, and is now increasing the number of “smartphone vending machines” to attract the younger demographic. Coca-Cola Japan introduced a royalty program that affords in-app payment through their mobile app Coke-On.

Other brands like Kirin and acure are rethinking their vending machines by integrating new payment methods or creating digital experiences that offer new value. Historically Coca-Cola has been known to carry a progressive attitude and this sheds light to the opportunity of innovation in the vending machine experience. How could Coca-Cola Japan disrupt the market by reimagining the vending machine experience?

Cultural Context

Japan remains a leading plastic consumer, with the second-largest per-capita consumption of single-use plastic products, trailing only the United States. However, Japan also leads the world in recycling rate, which was fostered by daily reinforcements from the education system and a sense of responsibility to meet community expectations.

Japanese people became environmentally conscious after the great earthquake that occurred in 2011. Though years after the disaster, people have lost interest and the younger generation lack the awareness of their actions as it became a habitual act that is done as a social manner.

Despite the high recycling rate, Japanese adults’—particularly young adults—interest in the environment is declining since the big earthquake in 2011. 55 percent of age 20-30 women and 44 percent of age 20-30 men stated that they don’t know what they should do to improve the environment.

Many people have shared that they want to know how their daily contribution is actually affecting the environment. So how could Coca-Cola Japan make both, recycling and vending machines attractive to the younger demographic to facilitate shared value creation?


What if Coca-Cola could reimagine the vending machine experience in order to disrupt the fragmented market while bringing back a sense of purpose to Japan's recycling culture?

The proposed solution is to install reverse vending machines that are streamlined with the existing Coke ON app to incentivize effective recycling while attracting the younger demographic to use vending machines. With Coca-Cola's ubiquitous vending machines, their existing digital offering, and their precedents of Reverse Vending Machines, there's a viable solution for the brand to address their business problem while aligning with their 2030 vision.

The experience must be transparent in order to communicate the individual impact, it must deliver branded interactions that engage the younger demographic, and it must foster a sense of community that empower people to participate in the shared value creation as Coca-Cola's partner.


The final output of the research and strategy can be found in the process deck below. The idea is to facilitate shared value creation by gamifying the vending machine experience while sharing personalized insights based on customer data to inspire action. I'd be more than happy to talk through the project in-person with more details.