Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sampling Parlours

How perfect it would be if I was allowed to try on the latest foot cream before purchasing it. Department store make up counters allow you to test beauty care products but not without having the sales girl breathing down your neck with special offers, or scanning you from top to bottom and telling you rather politely ‘Ma’am you can try the same shade for lesser in this brand.’ It absolutely infuriates me when caked up sales girls tell me that. I like to know what the white lily and pink coral do to my hair or how vitamin E enriched lipstick helps my lips. I like to read every fine print before I am thoroughly convinced and one can’t do it without the sales person interrupting you a zillion times in the process.

With new cosmetics flooding the market every day, and with the high price tags they demand, I am always wary about putting my money down. I don’t want to wake up with a face full of zits, or worse, discover I am allergic to a certain cosmetic I bought without trying it. Cosmetic shoppers in Tokyo are in for a special surprise with the launch of sampling salons like Club-C.

Customers at sampling salons are invited to take their time and try as many make-up and skin care products as they like without any pressure to buy. They can test-drive different brands and varieties side by side and make their purchases later at traditional sales counters or over the internet. While some salons employ a staff of knowledgeable consultants, there are no sales people onsite.

This is absolutely a delightful experience for both. On the Marketing front it not only helps understand consumers better, but also gives marketers a wide scope for research and development. While at the consumer end it allows people to leisurely try out products and helps build loyalty for brands.

The concept - a perfect interpretation of ‘Tryvertising’ – experiencing the product before purchase (still pretty unheard of in India). Salons get revenue from manufacturers who pay for their products to be displayed, market research organizations and sometimes from customers themselves, who pay modest membership fees. This concept has caught on quite well in Japan and will soon be mimicked the world over with probably minor variations. This can be extended to other product categories as well.

India is probably not mature enough to accept it but stores like Health and Glow, a hotspot for personal and beauty care products and L’Oreal run parlors could have small sections encouraging such trials (obviously with out nagging sales persons). They could have consultants who are pretty knowledgeable about products instead. Indian marketers should put some dough and thought into this concept because it has a great promise and even greater ROI.

In my opinion this is a brilliant concept, and I wish we could extend it to a whole lot of real life product and service categories – jobs, career, men. Now that’s whimsical fancy


Sabu Mangalasserril said...

hai dhivya ..thanks for visiting adformula... and you have a great blog here too...Can I add this in my blog roll? pls reply..