University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Brand management. Dove
1) Why does Unilever want fewer brands?
First of all let’s define what we mean does “brand” mean? I think brand is the practical, emotional, or instinctual response that is stimulated in the brain by a product or company. Brand is the image and feeling that get to people minds and hearts when they hear, smell, see and think of your name, product, and benefit. A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller. If used for the firm as a whole, the preferred term is trade name. Unilever wants fewer brands because it takes time, energy and resources to manage each brand. The more brands you brandish, the more resources you expend. In addition, brands compete with other brands for mental real estate in the customer’s mind. So, Unilever needs to have fewer brands, but these brands have to be stronger. Also, Global decentralization brought problems of control to the company and its portfolio had grown is a relatively laissez-faire manner and that makes Unilever has lacked of global identity.
2) What was Doves market positioning in the 1950’s? What is its position in 2007? In the 1950’s, Dove’s position was a functionally superior cleanser than soap, centered on science. Today, Dove is transforming into a lifestyle brand, centered on an emotional connection between consumer/product. In the 1950s Dove’s positioning was based on the functional superiority of its products and Dove’s position was a functionally superior cleanser than soap, centered on science. Since the formula for the soap had come from military research conducted to find a non-irritating skin cleaner with high levels of natural skin, Dove did not call their product ‘soap’. The advertisements clearly conveyed that Dove was one-quarter cleansing cream and further reinforced this fact visually with photographs that showed cream being poured into a tablet. Thus their positioning in the 1950s was solely based on conveying the benefits of Dove as a moisturizing agent and a cleanser.
However, Dove changed its positioning in 2007. A reason for this change was the parent Unilever’s initiative ‘Path to Grow’. Under this initiative Unilever wanted to reduce the diversity of its brands and bring down the number of brands from 1600 to 400. Unilever had selected Dove as one of its portfolio of brands that would serve as ‘Masterbrand’. Each of these Masterbrands would be an umbrella identity over a range of product forms. Under this new initiative, Dove was transforming into a lifestyle brand, centered on an emotional connection between consumer and product. This meant that Dove is no longer communicating functional superiority as functionality meant different things in different categories.
3) How did Unilever organize to do product category management and brand management in Unilever before 2000? What was the corresponding structure after 2000? How was brand meaning controlled before 2000 and how is it controlled at the time of this case? Throughout the years, Dove has kept a consistency with their appreciation for natural women. However, their style of messaging has changed. From emphasizing the functional benefit of a moisture rich cleansing bar and having the product sell itself, Ogilvy and Mather advertising agency has created a life stage of confidence for the natural women. They rely on more edgy concepts, though maintaining respect to the product and mission statement. On other word, before 2000, Unilever’s brand management strategy was decentralized and cannibalistically capitalistic, pushing each brand manager to compete with in-house brands. After 2000, organizationally Dove sought to thin the herd and focus on building super-brands. Prior to 2000, the meaning of Dove was simple and aspirational: soap that would not dry your skin. After 2000, Dove used emotional stimulus to implant the product deep in the customers’ minds. Dove became a statement of who you are, so one of the big differences between then and now is the additional availability of options to communicate a branded message to consumers.
4) Spend a little time searching blogs, using Google Blog Search, Technorati, BlogRunner, or any other blog search engines, to get a sense of what people are saying about Dove today. What does this discussion (your blog search) contribute to the meaning of the brand? There is some kind of political or social message included in their advertisements of the real beauty campaign, which heat up discussions on the Internet. On the blogs, I feel there are mostly negative critics about Dove. However, this is with regard to their advertisements so it means the reactions are about the message included in it, not specifically about the products. In addition, Dove does not include its products in the advertisements of the campaign. Among the blogs, Dove is perceived as a brand which tries to express what the average women looks like. Dove emphasizes on true beauty and naturalness, which concerns a true challenge by expressing this in its advertisements. To some people it is appealing while for some others it is not.
This comes forth out of believe that the women in the advertisements are not really natural; there is some distrust among a group of customers when it comes to unknown possibility of putting on make-up and using Photoshop in the advertisements. This is what the discussions on blogs can result in; it can generate distrust as well as trust of the Dove brand among people and/or customers and I want to focus on two factors here Image building: Once I typed the term “Dove”, thousands of posts come out. No matter the comment is good or bad, the more the posts are. From different bloggers, there are different point of views for this brand which provide consumers a whole scope of a product. And if read comment for a famous blogger, his neutral comments not only impress consumers but also even persuade them into buying Dove’s products more. Second, Brand identification: Besides persuasive comments from famous bloggers which make customers devote to it, most discussions are usually customers’ reviews based on their personal experiences and usually follow a product page or a link connected to purchasing pages.
In fact, these kind of reviews are almost good words, but even though knowing that the reviews are over exaggerated, customers still identify with Dove unconsciously and furthermore purchase instantly. I believe it is hard to know the effect on the sales of the Dove products and it is not clear, the discussions mainly focus on the message of the advertisement campaigns. In the end, the discussions generate favorable and unfavorable arguments for the Dove brand. The image of women in advertisements is a sensitive subject among women in the world. The term ‘beauty’ captures many different meanings among people and therefore it is a topic, which can lead to endless discussions. Moreover, for Dove this means that it is not perceived as solely a brand for products however, also as a brand which tries to make people aware of the impact of brands and its advertisements in general. Finally, I think they should have focused in both genders or mentioned how males can affect women’s’ decision-making.
5) Footnote 1 of the case leads you to a blogger who asks, with reference to the age of YouTube advertising, “Is Marketing now cheap, fast and out of control?” Footnote 2 refers to Dove as having started a conversation “that they don’t have control of.” In “When Tush comes to Dove” Seth Stevens writes about the “risky bet that Dove is making”. Do You see risks for the Dove Brand today Summery: Dove consider as the world’s number one brand for health and beauty product sector. In the past it has built its success on innovating products such as its early toilet bar with moisturizing cream, which was quite a revolution on the soap market at that time. Dove’s marketing strategy since 1957 and the launch of the first “cleansing bar” was to communicate on the functional superiority of its product (no dry sensation) over traditional soap. It was a great success that made the brand the leader on this market. But as I read it in the case, Dove became a “masterbrand” of Unilever in 2000, which started to sale many health and beauty product (deodorants, body lotions, hair care, etc) under the brand name of Dove. That’s why Dove had to change its advertising strategy. Marketing could no longer base its strategy on the functional superiority of its “soap” but had to communicate on a wider message.
That’s when Dove started with its “Campain for real beauty” and builds the image of a brand with “ideas” and “point of view” on the society. Dove had always preferred natural-looking women for its ads rather than stereotypical models but each time, it was only to promote the benefits of Dove products. In this campaign, it was the first time they promote controversial message against the common image of women’s beauty. They communicated on the natural beauty (provided by Dove products) instead of “unreachable” and “fake” beauty that you can see in the majority of advertisement. This controversial marketing campaign had a huge success in terms of media coverage but some people talked about the risks taken by Dove in opening a social debate that they couldn’t control and the fact that they might get the image of the “fat people” brand which could put them in an uncomfortable marketing position. First of all, Dove made this range of ads to discuss about the common image of beauty in our society. They were taking position as they present themselves as the leader of a battle against non-natural and unreachable
beauty. It is a good way to build the image of a brand that has a point of view and cares about women’s problems beyond the need of the product itself (lack of self-esteem, etc). They made some TV ads that to launch the “buzz” and it worked better than expected as the media started to talk about a new social debate and some TV shows mention it as cultural phenomenon.
Then they posted videos on YouTube. After a quick and large spread on the web, the message took another dimension as bloggers and forum’s users start to talk about it. That’s where the risks has begun. As Dove’s message was diffused widely, it was getting harder and harder to control the content of it and the image it wanted to promote. I think the only field where it is risky is for the non-potential consumers that can speak in a bad way about the brand and then change the mind of the potential consumers. As is mentioned in the case, every controversial message is dangerous if you can no longer control it. Some voices started to see Dove as the brand for “fat women” and saw the no-aspiration aspect in Dove’s advertising. There were a lot of parodies done on the ads and some of them were very critical about Unilever hypocrisy and real motives. Though Unilever was very careful about public relations, there was a risk with this campaign of losing the power of delivering a clear image and message.
To conclude, I think that if I could find some risks in this strategy, the benefits of it are far more numerous. . I do not consider it risky for Dove to put an advertisement campaign in this way. Because using this new way of distributing their advertisements only enhances the brand awareness and the attachment and loyalty of customers of the Dove brand. Also, They successfully touched many people in a very short time and, above all, besides the first TV and banner ads, this campaign grew up hugely without costing a thing, which is an amazing advantage and smart act. TV shows and debate, as well as Internet diffusion were doing the work for it. I think their strategy is not a big problem for the brand’s image if we compare it to all Dove’s sales and financial results.