For a team of young sumo wrestlers who could do with every drop of energy that comes their way, a present of bagfuls of rice would be a godsend.
Thanks to a quirky social gifting service, anyone who wants to extend a helping hand to sumo wrestlers or other young athletes can instantly act as a benefactor by sending gifts with the click of a mouse.
The “sashiire” service, run by Tokyo-based company daigaku sports channel Inc., is on the more unique end of the emerging social gifting industry, which allows people to give donations or presents via social networks like Facebook and other Internet sites.
Sashiire offers would-be donors a choice of around 50 items to give to student athletes, with about 250 teams listed on the website. Sashiire’s lineup of gifts includes 60-kg bags of rice, priced at around ¥50,000, and a set of 10 dozen bottles of sports drinks, worth around ¥21,000.
Sashiire means gift in Japanese, in particular provisions or refreshments to someone carrying out a task. Sports teams that want to receive such gifts register on the service’s website at www.sashiire.jp. Donors can go to the site and find teams they would like to support.
The teams that have been registered so far include those that play mainstream sports such as baseball and soccer as well as niche sports like lacrosse, as well as traditional Japanese endeavors including sumo and judo.
A popular team can receive as much as ¥200,000 worth of gifts per month.
Social gifting has lowered the threshold for giving presents or donations because it is as simple as clicking a mouse or tapping on a smartphone.
It is also starting to spawn a trend of friends sending trivial presents to each other.
The Starbucks Coffee chain started a service in January that lets customers send a free drink voucher accompanied by a message to friends via Facebook, Line or email. Each voucher can be exchanged for a drink priced at up to ¥500.
Akira Nagami, a Starbucks official who was involved in planning the service, said the e-gift voucher has proven more popular than expected as customers embraced its simplicity and low cost.
Meanwhile, a startup called giftee Inc. offers a social gifting service at giftee.co through which around 300 items can be sent, including cafe and convenience store vouchers as well as products such as soap and bouquets.
Convenience store vouchers, which are accepted exclusively at FamilyMart Co. convenience stores, range in price from ¥300 to ¥1,000 each, while cafe vouchers and gift products start at around ¥500.
Mutsumi Ota, president of giftee, says social gifting enriches relationships among friends linked through social media.
“I wanted to engage in a service that would let (friends) relate with each other in a more intimate way than by just sending a message on special occasions like birthdays and wedding.”
Some 90,000 people have signed up.
Yusuke Fujii, a 29-year-old company worker, uses the service up to four times a month.
“I feel free to send gifts regardless of whether it’s an anniversary day, and I receive more gifts than before,” he said.
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