There's a new cosmetics salon in Tokyo called Club C. where consumers can come in & try various cosmetics and beauty items, all without buying a thing. It's a new concept in 'tryvertising' that's manufacturer-supported.
Consumers are encouraged to compare different products, try new products, and make lists of items they want to purchase later in stores or online. There are no salespeople at Club C.
Most department store cosmetic counters allow trial, but only within that brand. Sure, you can pop from counter to counter, but you are still limited to the brands within that store (I've done this many times at Nieman Marcus.) What's so interesting about this concept is that it includes mass market brands like Bioré and Shiseido.
Letting consumers 'play' with the various products, try them, and compare them before buying them places these brands in the same coveted position as department store brands, and often at better prices. Even better, though, it gives the consumer a chance to try a product before wasting money on something she might not like.
Look for this concept to extend beyond Japan in the near future!