EVEN THOSE people who are completely computer literate like to make sure when buying new computers and accessories that they understand how they work. Very often, when a member of the sales staff in a store explains something about the product, the customer is not given the opportunity for hands-on experimentation to determine whether he or she and the product in question are compatible. For instance many people find it difficult to use a laptop unless they have a mouse attached. Aware of this, iDigital, the official Israel representative for Apple is inviting potential customers to come and "Take a bite out of the Apple" at a two-day marketing event at Dizengoff Center where Apple products can be tried out at the Handy Store between 5-9 p.m. on December 17 and 18. There will be experts in attendance to lecture and to give demonstrations and "how to" explanations. In addition, members of the public who are interested in buying any of the products on display will be encouraged to try them out so that if they do buy, they will do so with confidence in their ability to use the product. COUPLED WITH its end of year sales, the New Hamashbir is launching a NIS 2 million campaign to promote its new bags. There's a certain snob value in a bag that promotes a brand, and a stiff paper or cardboard tote bag with a rectangular base has much more snob value than the most attractive plastic bag, even when the plastic bag may carry the name of a more upmarket brand. Thus, the new bags being marketed by the retailer in all its stores will convey the message that Hamashbir now has a certain elan. The campaign will be conducted by Fogel Ogilvy and will run from December 13-24. It will include television commercials to be shown on Channels 2 and 10, large newspaper and magazine advertisements that will be placed in national publications and advertising on the Internet. EUROCOM, WHICH represents Nokia in Israel, will conduct a NIS 1.5m. image campaign under the slogan "Which Nokia suits you?" The print media and television aspects of the campaign will be handled by Geller Nessis, and Arc Interactive will be responsible for marketing via the Internet. The idea is to get across the message that Nokia has such a vast array of choices that there is indeed a mobile phone for everyone. THERE ARE many options for those who want to celebrate New Year's Eve, but if everything in Israel looks too tame for those for whom money is no object, there's still time to book for Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, and to get a close-up of the best in the Bunny Club. Prestiga, an agency owned by businessman Nir Sharon, which specializes in providing something exclusive and out of the ordinary for business groups and individuals, is marketing glamour and is offering Israelis the opportunity to welcome the New Year at Hugh Hefner's mansion. Entry fee is $7,000 per person or a $14,900 package deal that includes a direct business class flight on El Al, prestige car rental for five days, four nights in a double room at the Hotel Belair, an entrance ticket to the Mansion and participation in the New Year's Eve party. For those who can afford it and want to go, further details are available at www.prestiga.com. CHAIN STORES in Israel seem to be expanding at a faster rate than population growth, and considering the number of chains that are opening additional branches there must be a tremendous amount of as yet unrealized profit potential for retailers. ML, which specializes in larger sizes for women and men, is opening eight new stores at an investment of NIS 6m. Two Arab villages are included in the expansion strategy. ML proprietor and CEO Avi Malka says that the reason for opening additional stores away from the main retail centers of the country is to bring the brand closer to its target clientele. ML currently operates a total of 86 stores. NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE shops are not a novelty in Israel, they've been around for decades. But whereas in most cases there were less than a handful, with minimal attention to ambience, now there are almost as many neighborhood coffee shops as there are in downtown city centers. Many begin operating as early as 6:30-7 a.m. and often keep going till after midnight, which is indicative that Israelis like to eat out - or at least to drink their coffee away from home. This trend has led to the establishment of a growing number of chains, among them Aroma, Hillel, Coffee Shop, Arcaffe, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Roladin, the EspressoBar Group. The EspressoBar Group is opening three new branches and has appointed Ido Lev as executive chef for the whole chain. Proprietor and CEO Nurit Raveh, intends to turn EspressoBar into a culinary experience and Lev has been appointed to oversee the culinary standards of all the branches in the chain and to develop new menus. This is the first time that EspressoBar has had an executive chef. EspressoBar currently has six branches, five in Tel Aviv and one in Herzliya. CLAL INSURANCE wants to corner the market on pensions and savings plans and is mounting an aggressive marketing campaign on billboards and in the media to attract more people to its client list which already contains more than 500,000 names. ALPRO, A leading European producer of Soya bean products, is embarking on a NIS 550,000 marketing campaign through the advertising department of Shestovich. The four-week campaign is designed to persuade the public to take up a healthier life style. In addition to advertisements, Shestovich will release an Alpro booklet that explains all the reasons for using soya bean products and includes several easy-to-make recipes.