Yili: How Yili Used a Smart Vending Machine to Serve Consumers the Perfect Drink


Campaign Summary

With Chinese consumers becoming more health-conscious during the pandemic, dairy beverage brand Yili leveraged a popular smart watch and an IoT-capable vending machine to analyze consumers' bodies and recommend to them the perfect dairy drink for their health needs.



Within China's fiercely competitive dairy industry, there are numerous milk products on the market, each catering to different consumer and nutritional needs. This deluge of options leaves consumers confused as to which product is best suited to their needs. Yili, one of China's leading dairy brands, wanted to use science and personalization to help consumers determine their ideal dairy drink, driving brand differentiation and enhancing its image in the process.

Target Audience:

Because Yili had a full suite of dairy products, the audience for this campaign was any dairy drinker in China.

Creative Strategy:

During the height of the pandemic, China saw consumers conducting an unprecedented amount of research related to their individual health needs, with nearly three quarters of adults striving to eat healthier. To succeed in its goal of using science and personalization to provide consumers with the ideal dairy beverage based on their bodies' needs, Yili partnered with Chinese technology company Xiaomi to harness its smart watch. In China, Xiaomi's wearable 'Mi Watch' outsells Apple's Apple Watch.

For this partnership, Yili and Xiaomi created the Yili Smart Vending Machine, which used a consumer's Xiaomi smart watch to analyze and register data about the consumer's body — tracking things from BMI and heart rate to activity and sleep levels — whenever he or she approached the machine. Using this information, the machine then dispensed the Yili dairy beverage that was ideal for the consumer's body type. Additionally, the Mi Watch user was also able to access Yili beverage suggestions directly from his or her watch, as well as information on where to purchase it.


As Asia's largest dairy brand, Yili is committed to delivering healthy and nutritious dairy products to consumers across the region.


Overall Campaign Execution:

After creating the Yili Smart Vending Machine, Yili launched its innovative new Smart Vending Machine at the Wuzhen Internet Conference, where it gained mass PR attention across China's leading social platforms: Weibo, Douyin, and WeChat. Next, Yili launched its first-ever live pilot Smart Vending Machine at Beijing's popular Wumei Supermarket.

Mobile Execution:

To drive consumers to go test the first Smart Vending Machine in-store, Yili partnered with 10 celebrities and influencers, including Yangming and Shentao, and seeded content on social media under the banner "Drink milk scientifically," demonstrating to consumers how to find the right Yili product by using the machine.

Business Impact (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

Thanks to the first-of-its-kind Smart Vending Machine, Yili cemented its place as not only China's largest dairy brand, but also its most innovative. Over 60,000 consumers went to the Wumei Supermarket where the Smart Vending Machine was featured over a 14-day period.

The social media campaign generated over 343 million impressions, with 3 million views on the short-video sharing app Douyin alone.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Connected Devices/The Internet of Things | Awards: X Gold Winner