Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How Do You Sell Your Soap?

The "Branded Networker" seminar always begins with three questions.

Who are you? What do you do? And, other than your own, what is your favorite brand?

Last week, participants from the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce shared their answers with people they were meeting for the first time. As is custom, some of the perennial favorites popped up one-by-one; Apple, Starbucks, Harley-Davidson, etc.

But, when it was Francine's turn and she suggested Dove, it didn't stop there.

Francine regaled the attendees with her knowledge of how Dove soap has become the champion for real beauty and how the principle behind the campaign is to celebrate natural physical differences embodied by all women and inspire them to have confidence to be comfortable in their own skin.

It was obvious to anyone listening, that the branding experts behind the Dove campaign had hit one out of the park as Francine willingly (and freely) extolled the virtues of a "story" that has dramatically accelerated market share growth for the manufacturers of a bar of soap.

The Dove campaign is a great example of how you can heighten the perceived value of any commodity, and increase its demand simply by crafting and sharing a more compelling "story" than your competitors.

Dove focused its strategy on a universal truth. Research revealed only 2% of women worldwide consider themselves beautiful. There was almost universal dissatisfaction around body weight and shape. And more than two-thirds of women questioned agreed media and advertising had set unrealistic standards of beauty, with models weighing, on average, 23 percent less than the average woman.

The Dove message cut through the clutter and b.s. of the beauty industry, by confronting a dirty little secret: You can't sell a beauty product without somehow playing on women's insecurities. If women thought they looked perfect—just the way they are—why would they buy anything?

By taking an entirely different approach, the Dove campaign got noticed in a hurry when it was launched in 2004 as the debate went mainstream with Oprah and Ellen before 30 million daytime TV viewers.

"Because there is a natural storytelling urge and ability in all human beings, even just a little nurturing of this impulse can bring about astonishing and delightful results" NANCY MELLON, The Art of Storytelling

Dove has kept the campaign going, launching the Dove Self-Esteem Fund in 2006 as customers continue to buy this "story" in almost every key market across the globe. Worldwide sales of the Dove brand have increased by around 13%, an astronomical figure in the highly competitive packaged goods industry.

In the end, both beauty and truth may be in the eye of the beholder. But consider this as you reflect right now on your product or service and the customer you serve.

Have you been focused on just "selling the soap" or do you have a compelling "story" that goes with it?

In other words, does your branding message tend to focus more on the actual "soap" - the product or service you sell - or have you figured out a "story" that would actually matter to a customer that cares?Is there a universal truth about your product or service that is not being told to a customer who would pay to fall in love with your story - and spread the good word?

If beauty is only spin deep, how does the timeless principle of "storytelling" apply to your business and your brand?

"Why was Solomon recognized as the wisest man in the world? Because he knew more stories (proverbs) than anyone else. Scratch the surface in a typical boardroom and we’re all just cavemen with briefcases, hungry for a wise person to tell us stories"
ALAN KAY, VP at Walt Disney Co.


Andrew M said...

Dove is a Unilever brand. Other Unilever brands include Slim-Fast, Lux, and AXE, so the same company is simultaneously marketing a product that uses the sex images it attacks in the spot above for its deodorant brand and creates insecurity and bad body image to sell its diet shakes.

On top of that if you were to go to the super market and pick up the packaging for the Dove pro age product, you'll find that the packaging advertises that the product will:

"Make you look younger, reduce wrinkles and age spots..." etc.

Even its packaging doesn't follow through on the campaign direction that beauty comes in many forms.

Tricking people with false altruism is not an innovative strategy and tends to blow up in your face eventually.

KLZ said...

I buy Dove products, soap, shampoo, deodorant, I do not stray from this brand, this is the one I use, I just consistantly like the product. And I like their ads. I realize they are just advertisements, but it kinda hits you right in the boo-boo, most women aren't happy with their appearance...it's a sore spot, so regardless of whether the ads are sincere or just great marketing, people like it, it makes them... not feel so alone.

Anonymous said...

Top 50 stunts listed here, including the Dove campaign!