PepCoin utilizes machine learning and package recognition technologies, enabling consumers to earn direct cash back.

Salty and sweet. It’s a pairing that’s universally loved — and it’s where PepsiCo saw an opportunity to encourage a new buying behavior. Their goal was to boost bundled purchases of Pepsi beverages and Frito-Lay snacks. They envisioned an interactive, mobile experience for customers that would reward them for their loyalty and continued purchases.

The Strategy

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) scanning technology served as the baseline for bringing the vision to life. Because each SKU across the brands already had a unique identifier — i.e., Pepsi cap codes and Frito-Lay bellmarks — the key would be to give the user a way to scan them instantly.

Hathway and PepsiCo came together to map out the entire customer experience — all the way from the initial sign-up through scanning products, bundling Frito-Lay and Pepsi products together, awarding points, and distributing payouts through either Venmo or PayPal.

The scanning process itself went through multiple iterations. It needed to account for all the ways people might position a snack bag or a bottle cap for a photo. There could be a glare or a crinkled bag or a bottle cap that’s positioned sideways or still has soda droplets on it, for example. That’s where machine learning kicked in: Every photo taken through PepCoin teaches the scanner how to get better and better at recognizing the data it needs to process.

The Results

Cash back for enjoying snacks and beverages has proven to be a popular idea. Strong user acquisition keeps driving more scans (scanner usage is above 80% among users) — which, in turn, improves machine learning and makes the experience better and better.

That means its current use case is just the beginning. Now that PepsiCo has a way to track individual purchases, the potential applications go way beyond PepCoin. Stay tuned!


  • Machine learning integration
  • PayPal and Venmo payment integration
  • UX/UI strategy and design
  • Responsive web and mobile development
  • SessionM loyalty program integration
  • Customer experience strategy
  • Content strategy
  • Product strategy and planning
  • User testing and validation


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