Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. See main page for full contents

September 28, 2009


Wall Street Journal - At first glance, the Lcafe appears no different than any of the dozens of cozy cafes in Tokyo's Shibuya district, where trend-conscious young people flock to sip coffee and nibble on cakes and sandwiches. But look closely at the froth of the cappuccino or a coaster resting beneath a drink or the artwork hanging on the wall and it reveals the café's side business: pitching new products to affluent and influential young Japanese women. It's called a marketing cafe, a first of its kind in Japan. . . At Lcafe, customers must register via mobile phone and provide personal information including age, birthday and marital status in order to become a member. They can, however, use a nickname and needn't give their exact address. Once registered, the customers get tokens based on the amount of food or drink they ordered. Those tokens are then brought to a brightly lit "sample bar" where customers redeem the tokens for samples. After being open less than two months, the café has more than 2,000 registered members.


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