x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

The Emirates shop where goods are 'free'

A new shopping craze that allows customers to take home products for free is soon set to hit the Emirates. They will however have to pay a small membership fee.

Sample Central has stores in Europe, such as this one in Budapest, Hungary. Courtesy Sample Central
Sample Central has stores in Europe, such as this one in Budapest, Hungary. Courtesy Sample Central

A new shopping craze that allows customers to take home products free of charge is set to hit the Emirates soon. They will, however, have to pay a small membership fee.

From the first week of next month, shoppers will be able to walk away with up to 10 freebies from Sample Central, a new store in Dubai Festival City.

"Today the market is cluttered with a lot of products and the consumer is more confused than decisive about the products that they want to take," said Deepak Nayyar, the project manager for Sample Central, a Japanese franchise run by Al Khayyat Investments in the UAE.

"This concept lets targeted consumers try the products without paying for it."

Customers are obliged to review the free branded products and the feedback is then sent on to marketing heads at the manufacturers so they can better understand their customers.

The whole store is based on the marketing notion of "tryvertising", a combination of advertising, product promotion and allowing customers to try before they buy to breed brand loyalty.

Shoppers will have to pay Dh100 (US$27) to become members of the store and can review a different set of products every 15 days.

The store had planned to open last November but took a bigger location in Dubai Festival City following an extension that delayed the launch, Mr Nayyar said.

The majority of the goods offered will be fast-moving consumer products, such as cleaning brands, food, drinks and toiletries. But there will be opportunities to try new electronics goods in store.

The number of members at the shop will be limited to 35,000 but Mr Nayyar wants to add another store in Dubai and one each in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

Members will be awarded points for their product reviews.

More points will translate into more products members can test.

Originally a Japanese concept, Sample Central has stores in Europe, Asia and South America and says it works with brands including, Avon, Cadbury, Corona, Heinz, L'Oreal, Nestlé, Nintendo, Nissan, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Sony and Unilever.

The store earns revenues by taking on membership fees and by charging brands to place their products in the store.

Mr Nayyar said about 900 new products come into the UAE market every day. "Not only do [companies] provide their products but they pay for them to be placed in the store," he added. "We get relevant consumers, real consumers who are giving feedback."

Al Khayyat is a diversified UAE conglomerate with a retail business that operates franchises such as Superdry, Burger Fuel, La Martina, Fila and Holland & Barrett.

rjones@thenational.ae