The Sample Lab, which opened 25 July 2007 in Tokyo’s Iceberg Building in Harajuku, is a members-only space that invites consumers to sample and test new products.
More than a hundred people lined up for the opening, paying a modest JPY 300 registration fee and JPY 1,000 annual membership fee. Members need to be over 15 years of age, and gain entrance to the lab by showing a QR code stored on their cellphone. In addition to store-like shelves stocked with merchandise, the space also features a powder room where women can sit down to try out beauty products.
While the Japanese sampling salons we featured in the past focus solely on cosmetics, Sample Lab offers everything from BBQ sauce and exercise equipment to pantyhose and moisturiser. Besides trying everything out in the shop, members can take home up to 5 items per visit. To harvest their precious feedback, Sample Lab asks visitors to fill out surveys about the products they’ve tested. The concept was created by marketing agency Mel Posunetto, with the dual purpose of collecting user feedback and sparking word of mouth advertising.
Many consumers are happy to pay to be the first to try out a new product, and to spread buzz that’s invaluable to brands launching new products. Moreover, creating a dedicated space for trying out new products makes it easier to collect feedback, which creates a nice niche for firms like Mel Posunetto. Tryvertising is the new advertising, right?