Selling Confidence

For the last 15 years, Dove has been running a “Real Beauty” advertising campaign which exposes the falsification of beauty in the media, spreads the idea that everyone is beautiful, and promotes self-care and confidence. This campaign has been highly successful, with Dove sales increasing by over 60% since the advertisements first began running. But why? What is it about this particular campaign that proves so effective? What are they actually selling here?

These Dove commercials mainly feature typical women, the target market of Dove beauty products. According to their research, most women do not consider themselves to be beautiful, at least not compared to the unattainable standards of beauty set by magazines, billboards, and other media. Dove capitalizes on this by stating that each woman is unique and beautiful, and, in this commercial specifically, by showing that women are more beautiful than they think they are. To the typical woman, who constantly compares herself with the fake images she sees in the media, this message is inspiring and uplifting. Women who view this ad are likely to feel more beautiful and confident because of it. This creates a positive feeling associated with Dove products and makes the consumers more likely to purchase Dove over competitor brands.

The brilliance of the Real Beauty campaign is its message. The text of these advertisements don’t have anything to do with Dove products. Similarly, beauty products have little or nothing to do with actual beauty. The message of this advertisement is purely customer-focused. Instead of selling a product, it aims to sell an idea, to inspire a feeling. Rather than claiming that their products will make you beautiful, Dove asserts that all women are beautiful just as they are. They don’t try to convince you that you need their products, they simply send a message of support. Rather than selling their product, they are selling confidence. This strategy is both original and effective. Most women, myself included, have excitedly purchased beauty products that, against their great hopes, were disappointing and /or ineffective. It seems that most of the time, beauty products do not live up to their promises. We’ve all been disappointed by a beauty product that claimed to clear your skin, or lengthen your lashes, or tame your hair etc. But Dove doesn’t make any such claims. Instead, their advertisement simply says, “You are more beautiful than you think you are.”

Dove’s long-running, high-grossing, Real Beauty campaign is brilliantly conceived. To the average consumer, the advertisement leaves them with a good feeling, and a good impression of the brand. To those well versed in advertising and reading media messages, however, the clever strategy is quite clear. Dove uses the common insecurities of women to their advantage by showing that a typical, everyday woman is beautiful too. Women are likely to relate to this, and to respond positively. The overall message of the advertisement is strong, straight- forward, and moving: You are beautiful. Women don’t remember all the false promises that a certain product gives, but we remember that Dove thinks we’re beautiful. Dove makes us feel confident.