Dove: Encouraging Female Consumers to Share their Beauty Stories
Unilever has a long history in China, having initially entered the market by setting up a soap factory almost 90 years ago. It reentered China in 1986 where it continues to sell a variety of consumer products to this day. Unilever first launched the Dove personal care brand in China in 2002 and currently markets facial care, hair care, body wash, and soap products in China under the Dove brand name.
Even compared to its sister brands at Unilever, Dove can be considered a latecomer to China. It was introduced to China’s personal care market many years after both Pond’s and Lux. Dove needed to differentiate itself from other well-known Unilever brands, but more importantly, it needed to stand out from an endless array of domestic and foreign competing products.
Dove turned to Sina Weibo, the most popular micro-blogging website in China, by launching the campaign, “You’re a Beauty Story” in March 2011. Weibo users were encouraged to post their personal understandings of beauty on the open account named “Dove Loves Beauty.” Participants had a chance to win Dove product samples and receive ongoing tips about personal healthcare. Female celebrities from all walks of life including actresses, idol contest finalists, and models were invited to share their beauty stories as well.
The online campaign was a huge success for Dove. Dove’s Weibo followers grew by 131,345 within three months – 31% more than anticipated. Additionally, Dove collected over two million beauty stories against an original goal of 540,000. Dove concluded the campaign with a large-scale interactive movie exhibition in Shanghai. Later in 2011, Dove’s campaign won a silver Effie Award for its successful social media marketing integration. As a result of the campaign, Dove’s brand recognition and sales in China also increased.
The China Observer View:
Dove skillfully translated its global women’s beauty campaign into a more locally relevant adaptation for the Chinese audience. By understanding how Chinese netizens engage with Sina Weibo, Dove developed an interactive online campaign that surpassed its expectations. Marketers seeking to attract female netizens in China should consider providing a similar forum for users to openly express themselves and engage directly with your brand.