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Test and pay with your opinion - Sample Central

The age of tasting food in shops, free samples and pages-long consumer surveys, regardless of their efficacy as measurement tools of product quality, which is only known to producers, is over. That, however, is very much common knowledge that one sample of shampoo won’t make your hair permanently shiny, one pill won’t improve your everyday mood and a single application of a face cream won’t guarantee its long-term usage will have favorable results. No matter how colorful and innovative an advertisement campaign is, customers need first-hand experience because even if the people in a commercial are racing on 120% due to the effects of a super-coffee, it might not work for us. This line of thinking gave rise to Sample Central, where you don’t need a wallet or a purse, only your opinion.

In order to enter Sample Central, which can be found in Gozsdu Udvar, you need to fill out a form. This form is what informs the companies participating in the promotion about your age group, preferences, which product you liked or which you didn’t. Having done with entering the relevant data, you’re given a membership card and the opportunity to book an appointment when you want to come “shopping”. This is the only time you actually have to pay – 1499 HUF for registration fee and 4999 HUF for a one-year membership. After this only your opinion counts.

“We represent a forum for completely innovative marketing and market research purposes, where people come to try the products and let their opinion be heard. And they love it! Producers were worried about the questionnaire being a drag for customers but it’s not. Well, they contain only 12 questions, not pages of them. The visitors are positively proactive, they criticize even the questionnaire if they don’t like it.” - says Laura Novotny, the communication maganer.The selection of products is quite wide, there are algae pills, herpes creams, deep-frozen meat products, chocolate, yoghurt and shampoo, and it’s changed biweekly. You take off the shelves what you want and finally you can complain all you want to not only your friends and on internet forums but directly to the producers. The surveys can touch down as early as in two weeks on the desks of those concerned. You must have also met products which needed only a little tweaking to be perfect but as they were, no-one bought them and so they vanished from shops with the promise they represented. So it’s even more fun to contribute to the perfection of the products currently under development, and get the best flavors, for instance, to where they belong.

You won’t need to browse through comments on the internet at nights to learn who thinks what reasonable to buy because now you can decide after your first-hand experience.Bits about the pastThe first Sample Central shops opened in Tokyo in 2007 after the idea of an Australian man. Since then they have spread in both Asia and Latin America and the first European shop of the franchise was opened in Budapest in November 2011. As Laura Novotny told us, in Japan electronic products and services are more looked for, for example, many Japanese choose to have their aura read. Contrary to this, Brazilians tend to visit these shops for free chocolate, shampoo or lighters. The Budapest store is currently in its 1.0 version, with more emphasis put on products in order to give the public time to get used to the place and the system. Version 2.0 is planned to have more services, and free hairdressing or make-up consultation is a possibility, too. There is a special service, though, we were very happy to see: the free tickets of Karinthy Theater. If you’re still hesitating to pay 6500 HUF for the membership, you’d better make some calculations. Theater tickets cost 2500-4000 HUF on average, so if you manage to get your hands on two once a year, you’re just fine, and who knows how much more you’ll try in exchange for your opinion. But you might want to hurry because tickets tend to vanish into thin air in about one and a half day. The latest tickets arrived on 16 January.

It might come as a little disappointment but electronic gadgets can’t be taken home to be tested, one can only get intimate with a MacBook or an iPad in the shop, but the same is true for a massage armchair or a beanbag. It’s important, though, not to forget about filling out the questionnaire intoxicated by the abundance of free products if you want to come back for more. Since if you don’t give your opinion about a product, you won’t get another appointment.
“People are very much willing to complete the questionnaire, more than 95% of them does so. This is a very good figure. Producers were skeptical about the results but fortunately they had to realize they were wrong. People are aware that they can only come back if they give responses, and they’re not encouraged to not come back after a single free ride.” The system employed by the test shop is easy to understand and get used to. This is assisted by the well-designed shopping environment and the points awarded for visits. And if you might’ve thought that the shop is mainly popular among young people, here’s the surprise for you. People in their 40s and 50s come here as well, and the ratio of men and women is also quite balanced, with 55-45% in women’s favor. Well, women are the ones who really like going shopping, right?

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