In Japan and many countries around the world, it is common to receive free samples of snacks or cosmetics. They are a marketing tool to entice people to buy the actual thing.
The cost has not stopped a Japanese snack manufacturer from going all out to encourage potential customers.
Harimayama - a rice cracker maker based in Hyogo Prefecture - has shops in Fukuoka and Kyoto and has opened its third shop in Tokyo. As part of a promotion, it has been offering its customers rice crackers free of charge, together with coffee and tea.
One customer said: "I love it. I walked around the area for the first time. I came from Gunma and came by for the first time."
Another said: "I think many customers who come here will purchase them as gifts. (I will buy them) for my mother."
The popularity of this latest shop in Tokyo has even surprised its owner. About 1,500 to 2,000 customers enjoy the freebie everyday.
One tonne of rice crackers are served during the first month of opening. But the store said it has increased sales by 50 per cent due to the prime location of the store.
Keisuke Kawamura, manager, Harimaya Station Tokyo Kasumigaseki, said: "We supply the rice crackers and the customers buy directly from us. There is no middleman. For that reason, we can use quality ingredients, make good products, and can provide them at a reduced price. At the same time, we can return our gratitude."
While the promotion may work with some customers, more effort will be needed to attract others.
One customer said: "Rather than eating rice crackers, I would prefer to buy other stuff."
For Harimayama, the conquest of this final sector will establish its dominance of the rice cracker market.
Do you take free food samples?
sometimes..depends on what it is
there is no free samples where i live