How Dove Uses Data to Make Customers Feel Beautiful

A recent Infogroup study found that of the marketers surveyed, 47 percent are already seeing ROI on expenditures related to data technology. Data can always help improve targeting and messaging, but in some instances, it can help fuel creativity.

I can find no better example of the creative use of data than Dove. While female-centric marketing is nothing new, it’s Dove’s string of emotional campaigns that I remember most. Dove’s ads are more than feel-good spots that challenge the status quo – they move products.

1. Know Your Customers: In 2013, Dove asked women to describe their appearance to others. The campaign found that women judged their own appearances harshly.

Not only did the campaign demonstrate perception gaps, but I also found it an incredible example of a brand achieving intimate knowledge of its customers. Through personalized questions and detailed interviews, Dove finely honed the relationship between consumer and brand. The women Dove surveyed were real and, as such, the brand moved beyond basic consumer demographics.

The process was cyclical – as Dove shaped perceptions of the brand, they shaped themselves. When discrepancies existed between self and perceived beauty, Dove challenged women to reimagine beauty standards. I feel that Dove’s commitment to understanding its customers made such an approach possible, especially considering the topic’s sensitivity.

2. Personalize: Have you ever wondered if you are beautiful or average? Dove asked real women to choose for themselves. While some women chose beautiful, that choice was not unanimous.

What I like here is that Dove gives its consumers the option to personalize their interactions with the brand. Although the choice is a difficult one, it was autonomous and Dove achieved maximum personalization with minimum effort. Dove stands by its understanding that there never has been, and never will be, just one type of beautiful. Beauty is personal, Dove is personal, and woman means mother, daughter, sister, friend, stranger, etc. This commitment to individuality is apparent across all of Dove’s campaigns.

3. Collect More Data: What I like most about Dove’s marketing strategy is how the brand collects good consumer data. Not only are the brand’s practices numerous, but they are also highly creative.

First, Dove loves to interview its customers. In its 2014 “Dove Legacy” campaign, Dove interviewed mothers and daughters about self-worth and beauty.

Second, Dove collects data across a number of mediums, bridging multichannel marketing gaps. The brand’s “Selfie” campaign helped young women redefine beauty through the power of mobile devices and social media.

And third, and perhaps most creatively, Dove sources data through video diaries. Throughout the “Dove Patches” campaign, where women wore an artificial patch designed to enhance beauty, research followed users into their homes and gained access to more consistent and personal data.

Dove gathers unique data from a range of demographics. In collecting more data, Dove’s personalization and knowledge efforts are enhanced.

Within its campaigns, Dove maintains a commitment to large-scale social issues. During a 2014 TED talk, Meaghan Ramsey, the global director of the Dove Self-Esteem Project, said that every month, about 10,000 people Google the phrase ‘Am I Ugly?’ In reaction to this vast confidence disparity, Ramsey and her team develop Dove campaigns that encourage a more positive approach to beauty.

And it all started with data. What Dove has done is remarkable—in gathering stronger, more telling data, the brand recognizes and reacts to real-world consumer needs. Beyond creating a product, Dove develops a story that is attuned to the particular narratives of its consumers. This wisely links ROI for data technology with real-world consumer activity.

Even brands as successful as Dove should be wary of resting on their laurels, though. I think that every business can do more to collect more data, personalize campaigns and develop more strategic consumer knowledge.

Gretchen Littlefield is president of Infogroup Media Solutions, a brand of Omaha-based Infogroup.
Publish date: June 5, 2015 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT