It has been over 5 years since we last discussed the idea of scent marketing, which can be defined as "the intentional use of olfactory elements, such as an odor or fragrance, for the purpose of enhancing customers' experience with a product." At that time, we suggested, that after a few false steps, maybe the time had finally come when more marketers would begin to deploy olfactory elements in their marketing efforts. Yet, five years later adoption of such methods remains relatively slow.

Obviously, the practice of scent marketing has almost always played a critical role in creating customer interest in industries in which smells represent the essence of the product being sold (e.g., baked goods, perfume). However, the adoption of this method across many other product areas, where the smell of the product may not be critical to the buyer, is still something that is slow to develop.

Yet, once again, there are reports this may be changing. This NPR story discusses new developments in scent marketing and provides several examples of companies selling scent-producing devices for installation in retail stores and other locations. For instance, a company called ScentAir, sells devices that can emit a single scent or be programmed to change the scent throughout the day.

The story also indicates that effective use of scent is not only about choosing the right ones but also the strength by which customers experience it with one industry expert suggesting a subtle aroma is more effective than strong scents. Finally, the story also offers a summary of what academics and other researchers have learned, and why they believe the time is now right for many others to explore scent marketing.

It is fairly safe to assume that almost all marketers believe the most important development in the field over the last 20 years is the role the Internet plays in transacting business. While the Internet's significance is hard to dispute, it is a mistake to believe that marketing is all about the Internet. In reality, there are many marketing practices, some of which have been utilized for over 100 years, that have not been displaced by electronic methods. For instance, some of the most fundamental practices that work outside the Internet are those dealing with the nurturing of distribution relationships needed to get products into customers' hands. As we discuss in our Distribution Decision tutorial, while distribution relationships can vary in terms of how binding the connection is between the partners, the creation and maintenance of these relationships is not driven by the Internet but by contractual agreements that are almost always worked out through one-on-one interpersonal contact.

However, one downside of distribution relationships is that the parties selling to the final customer may not always like what a distribution partner is requiring. And if things get really bad in the relationship between the parties, channel conflict can occur. For example, conflict can arise with disagreement on delivery methods, promotional support for selling a product, payment terms, and even product pricing.

A good example of conflict with pricing is found in this NBC News story in which a disagreement has arisen between a supplier of bottled water, Kitson Stores, and Los Angeles International Airport retailer Hudson. Apparently, despite a contractual distribution agreement, Hudson is refusing to sell the bottled water due to disagreement on the final selling pricing. Now in most cases like this, it would be logical to believe the issue is that Hudson does not want to sell the product at a price that is higher than what the supplier recommends. However, in this case, the opposite is occuring as Hudson wants to sell the bottled water at a price that is double the price Kitson charges for the same product in stores it owns in the LA area. Kitson believes this represents price gouging and is unfair to anyone purchasing the product. The conflict has resulted in Kitson filing a breach of contract lawsuit against Hudson for refusing to sell the bottled water at the suggested price. As expected, Hudson has fired back with its own lawsuit that looks to end the relationship between the two parties.

Controlling a brand's image is one of the major goals of any marketer selling named products as it offers many advantages including making a product stand out from other products, creating a more loyal customer base and, most important, building brand equity. We have noted the importance of establishing a recognizable brand name many times. For instance, last year we looked at how providers of medical marijuana face branding decisions as a way to separate their products from a rapidly growing group of competitors. And a few weeks ago we reported on how the need for building strong brands has led to a growing market for services hired to create unique brand names.

However, for all the work marketers do to control a brand's image, success often comes down to one thing – how customers perceive a brand. That is, what is the first thing that comes to customers' minds when they hear a brand's name or are exposed to it visually (e.g., see image, see actual product). One of the best ways to measure this is to ask customers simply: "What word describes Brand X?" Obviously the type of responses will be varied, such as describing a brand as innovative, ugly, strong, unreliable, etc. While there are certainly hundreds of terms people will use to describe a product, one that most marketers do not want to hear is "cheap."

As discussed in this Entrepreneur Magazine story, marketers need to steer clear from having customers think of their brand as being cheap. Instead, marketers with low price products should create a marketing strategy in which their product is thought to be "affordable." As discussed, the difference is that products perceived as cheap may also be viewed as lacking value, that is, you get what you pay for and with cheap products that is not much. Alternatively, in customers' minds, they are getting their money's worth and maybe a little more with products perceived as affordable. In other words, positioning a product so it is perceived as being affordable places a brand in a much stronger position than if it is being viewed as cheap.

Visitors to KnowThis.com visit the site for many different reasons. There are business professionals who find value in the information we provide in our Tutorials. There are those in educational fields who like to keep up with the latest Marketing Stories. And there are students who find the resources on the site useful for school assignments. However, if there is one marketing topic that draws the attention of all three groups, it would have to do with what the future holds for employment in marketing.

A few weeks ago we discussed what type of jobs will be in demand in the next few years, and we noted that at the top of the list are Market Research Analysts. Now some may think a Market Research Analyst is someone who mainly designs online surveys or collects data by making phone calls to customers. While they may do some of this, when we talk about an analyst position it is much more likely we are talking about people who do much more. Professionals in these positions possess the knowledge and skills to create research instruments, gather data, crunch the results, dissect the information and eventually draw insight from the information that helps guide business decisions. The demand for people who possess these skills is growing rapidly. Moreover, right now, for those who can combine strong quantitative ability with effective communication skills, such as writing reports, presenting results and even socializing with clients, the potential is tremendous.

To help bring this point home is this story from Advertising Age, which offers strong evidence that those who possess strong analytical skills will be in demand. It points to a research company's estimate suggesting that by 2018 demand will far outpace supply, leading to a shortage of skilled analysts. The story also suggests that higher education has been a bit slow in responding with full analytics degree programs, though a quick Google search shows that many schools are now offering analytics certificate programs.

Make no mistake, an analytics jobs does require strong quantitative skills. Yet, for those who possess these skills and may have thought their skills were better suited for jobs in the sciences or the computer industry, market research may just be a better option.

Methods of sales promotion are inherently techniques for encouraging someone to do something. Whether the promotion is in the form of a coupon, rewards program, free sample or many other methods, to most marketers the "something" they are looking for almost always involves customers spending money.

However, methods of sales promotion do not always have to be about building sales. As we note in our definition of Sales Promotion, the ultimate goal in using these methods is to get people "to respond or undertake certain activity."  Yet, getting someone to do something is not only about having them spend money. Parents and teachers have known this forever as they are masters of offering incentives to get kids to do non-monetary activity, such as cleaning up their room or speaking up in the classroom.

The extent to which sales promotion techniques are being used to incent non-monetary activity is discussed in this Trendwatching story. For example, in the U.S. an insurance company is offering its policyholders Amazon money if they attain a fitness goal. To monitor policyholders' fitness level, the company is also giving out free wearable fitness trackers. In Brazil, as part of an anti-smoking campaign, people can place cigarettes in a vending machine and in exchange receive free gifts. And in Canada, police officers are handing out tickets that reward positive behavior by children. The tickets can then be redeemed for various prizes. Other examples discuss how promotions encourage use of sustainable methods of transportation and promote recycling. There is also an example of a shared social incentive program, offered by Fitbit, where participants can help feed those in need by burning off calories.

Overall, the examples presented in the story can offer ideas for any organization that wants to achieve an objective.