Featured, Marketing, Scent Marketing

I’d like my marketing medium rare!

Written by Jennifer Dublino, on June 10th, 2010

Where a steak comes from

The media attention that Bloom and ScentAir achieved for their steak-scented billboard generated the usual comments. There were those who find it creative and innovative and enjoy it’s playfulness, those who couldn’t care less because they either didn’t notice the scent anyway or at least weren’t bothered by it, and those who outright saw it as an invasion of their personal space. If an informal poll were to be taken from the close to hundred posts that popped up over the last week or so the ratio would probably be 60/20/20. Not too bad.

It is a great effort by ScentAir and a great commitment from Bloom to have their name associated with it. Because ScentAir is certainly not making any money from this “one off” installation as everybody in the Scent Marketing industry can tell you. They’d rather be (and already are) in hundreds of retail stores and hotels. And Bloom is taking the risk of being guilty by association as defined by the 20% fragrance haters. Well, if there wouldn’t be any thought provoking innovation in business and science then both the haters and the supporters wouldn’t have a platform to make their respective comments from.

For most of the brands, admitting to use scent for their marketing is like “coming out of the closet”. Sometimes this happens voluntarily, more often it happens by accident. Just like in real life. Activities in the industry are generally governed by multipage Non Disclosure Agreements and trying to find out who designed and supplied the scent, who installed the delivery system and what customers think about it is a process more difficult and painful than pulling teeth. There are plenty of suspicions and allegations and the brands and their suppliers not being allowed to comment on them doesn’t exactly help diffuse them (pun intended). Just walk into a scented store and ask one of the associates what the scent is and where it comes from and you will either get a blank stare back or an outright denial. Sometimes even people working there aren’t kept in the loop. But then, who plugs the refills into the units? Are there Scent Marketing elves that come at night?

Same as the delicious scent from the billboard, the story becomes diluted over time and the more often it is repeated by the various blogs. Facts will be altered or get lost, comments fall out of context, spin is added one way or the other. And soon it will fade into the air. Just as the fragrant steak. That air will be as clean as we can tolerate it to be and the definition of “clean air” is left to the politicians and the environmentalists who prod them towards better results.

Are we heading towards a scent free future? What would life be like without the stimulation we receive from our environment, the change of the seasons, the many scents we notice as we take a walk in the woods or even only around the block? Wouldn’t it be nice if once in a while we were stopped in our tracks and challenged to think about what “this smell” is and where it comes from?

Roughly $8 billion a year are spent for home fragrances of any kind, from scented candles to reeds. There are only a few “meat scents” among them such as Burger Kings’. Nevertheless, it shows that someone must like it.

The Scent Marketing industry more often than not finds itself in an undeserved defensive position. Yes, in most instances they want to help their customers sell product and generate and increase brand awareness. And no, no individual should be “assaulted” with scent outside a controlled environment. But there are people out there looking for a ray of sun or a breath of fresh air, and they don’t mind if it actually smells good.

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