Sample-product cafe targets young women

by Kazuaki Nagata

A cafe with a new concept will open Wednesday in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, offering women product-marketing samples — and a place to hang out if they’ve missed the last train.

Lcafe, run by Sample Lab Ltd. inside the Parco department store, will give companies the opportunity to display promotional product samples.

On opening day, sample cosmetics and snacks will be on hand.

KDDI Corp. has placed ads around the cafe for a new cell phone that can serve as an electronic reader, and is taking the extra step of placing some of the handsets on tables for customers to try.

“It’s a touch and try concept under the current recession,” said Shoji Matsushita of Sample Lab. “I think it is good that people can try out a product before actually buying it.”

He noted that as consumers, women have continued to spend despite the recession. The cafe mainly targets women, especially those in their 20s and 30s, who are keen to trends and have some money to spend on themselves.

When customers purchase drinks or food at the cafe, they get tokens that can be exchanged for sample products.

The interior is designed to make female customers feel at home, providing women’s magazines and hand mirrors.

Open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 a.m., the cafe will be available only for women after midnight for the first three months, as there are few places where women who have missed the last train can wait comfortably until morning.

“I think women can come to the cafe and spend their time safely and comfortably here (until the first train),” Matsushita said.