Sara Reiner | Contributor
September 14, 2012

Wake Up and Smell the Winner: The Predictive Power of APIs and Morning Coffee


If you are looking for a way to illustrate how APIs are a piping hot way to better reach and understand your customers, here’s a tall cup of big brand proof. Your corner store is where APIs meet Main Street to answer a question on everyone’s mind: Obama or Romney?

7-11 is in the midst of their 7-Election campaign at locations across the US. Customers can “cast their ballot” for the presidential election by purchasing their coffee in a red cup for Republican candidate Mitt Romney or a blue cup for Democratic candidate President Barack Obama. While 7-Election cups have played pollster since 2005, this is the first time the data collected from their sales is part of the 7-Eleven Election API. Developers have access to the informal polling numbers to integrate results into apps along side the best poll data.

And it’s not wildly different. According to 7-11, sales of their electoral cups have mirrored the popular vote within “a couple” of percentage points and correctly predicted the outcome of the last three elections. These numbers aren’t just helping America understand its choice in November. 7-11 is harnessing the power of their data to reach customers this election who might otherwise never consider the merits of 7-11 or its self-serve coffee pots.

Even after the election, the transaction volumes of each cup will help 7-11 better understand the customer drinking their coffee. Who doesn’t want to wake up and smell that? While you can indeed find the same variety of highbrow newspapers, vitamin drinks and gluten-free treats in a 7-11 as you do in the smuggest coffee house; the whirl of the frozen beverage machine is likely to drown out the din of political discourse. So how does such a business reach the customer across the street?

By crossing it. By creating awareness tied to something as widely understood as the election, 7-11 in effect breaks down the barriers of its brand to reach customers where their minds are focused. In the past, 7-11 has enjoyed a place in the presidential election consciousness, albeit possibly kitsch value. Maybe now the red and green sign may not just feed your need for caffeine, but reveal the pulse of votes among everyday American voters live on the 7-election website and offer that data to be part of apps today.

7-Eleven sells more fresh-brewed coffee than any of its other own products: 1 million cups each day. So with all that coffee consumed, could 7-11 become how we actually come to learn who leads the next four years to come for America. Want to learn more about powerful data and marketing uses of APIs?

Join us at the Business of APIs conference in San Francisco on October 2, 2012 to see companies like Klout and GetSatisfaction talk about how APIs can help you better understand your customers.