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Want samples and coupons? Join the party

Join the consumer fest
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Join the consumer fest

How would you RSVP to an invitation to spend an evening eating, drinking and talking about a new cereal or critiquing a new video game?

If you have friends with wide social networks, there's a good chance such an invitation will land in your inbox. And, chances are you'll answer "yes" if you love to participate in that great American pastime -- consumerism.

This year, more than 2 million consumers will be receiving such invites, according to the Irvington, N.Y., firm House Party, a major organizer of these fests in people's homes for corporations such as Kraft Foods Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

Companies are quickly adopting these get-togethers as a new marketing method. "It gives us a chance to put new products into the hands of consumers and their friends, experience the products in a group setting, and then spread the news about them through their social networks and friendships," says Silvia Harmon, spokeswoman for Kraft in Northfield, Ill.

Here's a closer look at how these consumer fests work and why so many are joining the party.


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