The company behind a vending machine that dispenses free product samples to customers who promote the brand on social media plans to target the convenience sector in the new year.

Vendmini, from Social Vend, has initially linked with cosmetic suppliers to give away samples of make-up at train stations and other public areas.

Social Vend chief executive, Andrew Theodore, said it was a lot cheaper than paying for staff to give samples away.

He planned to target the convenience market next spring which brand owners could use to offer free samples of anything they wished to promote.

A touch-screen on the machine prompts shoppers to send a post featuring the brand’s hashtag to Instagram or Twitter – “for example, I love Coke to get a free Coke. You send the message, you type your name and it gives you a reward through the machine,” said Theodore.

Theodore said it worked with any product. “We’ve done it with Pandora jewellery, USB sticks and with jelly beans.”

Brand owners buy the machines and convenience stores pay nothing – they just benefit from, potentially, any subsequent purchase of the promoted product.

“It would work for pretty much anything – it could be razors, whatever people want,” said Theodore.

The machine includes a camera that can provide facial recognition data so brand owners can learn age and gender of those accessing the products to provide user insight.

“On the back of making the touch screen interactive we can do market research – such as how many times a week to you shave. You can add images and make it fun and make it part of the user journey,” said Theodore.

Retail environments would take it up first. “We’re picking off sectors one by one,” he said.