Winning Over Female Beauty Consumers in India – A Lesson From Dove

Written by Polona Golob

May 12, 2017

The Dove “Real Beauty” campaign has an iconic status among marketing circles. Using “real” women who buy the products instead of models seems simple, yet it defied everyday advertising practices. After major success in the West, Dove continues to reinvent its famous advertising campaign in other countries. Taking in account cultural specifics it snatched its share of female beauty consumers in India’s market. Let’s take look how the famous beauty products company adapted its western marketing strategy to make it in India.

The Original Dove Real Beauty Campaign

It all started in 2003 in the UK. Remember these billboards?


Since then the campaign has won numerous of awards and the company has raised its revenue from 2.5 billion $ to 5.8 billion $ after its launch. The key to Dove’s success is the dialogue the campaign creates with the consumers. It’s not just a product showcase, but addresses the consumers directly asking them what they perceive as beautiful.

Following the Real Beauty adverts Dove successfully continued the campaign by issuing “Real Beauty Sketches” and “Real Beauty Stories”. In the first women were asked to describe themselves while being sketched by a sketch artist. The same artist then draw the same woman, yet now she was described by another person. There was a big difference between the two sketches. The first would turn out less flattering than the other. Women realized they cultivate an unrealistic and negative image of themselves influenced by advertisers. By now the videos have had 180 million views. #RealBeautyStories is a major success on Twitter, where both the company as well as others at random publish stories related to their views on beauty.

Breaking the Beauty Rules in India

Dove has recognized India’s potential as the next big beauty products market. The country is experiencing a gender role revolution as more and more women abandon their traditional roles of staying home to take care of the family. Women’s education is India’s top objective as illiteracy rates among women are not only high, but also heavily lagging behind men’s. All this creates a new pool of female consumers, which are more conscious of the world around them.

How to Refocus a Global Issue Into a Local Concept?

Dove’s Real Beauty initiative for India continues with its core strategy from the West. But marketing managers have upgraded the Indian campaign with their past knowledge and experiences. They invited the popular Bollywood filmmaker Pan Nalin to shoot a commercial spot calling out “Let’s break the rules of beauty”.

Though one country, India has an extremely racially mixed population. People differentiate who comes from which part of India depending on the color of their skin and visual appearance. Dove has not only managed to elaborate on the concept of beauty enforced from the West, but is exploring the issue from a local perspective. The spot portrays women from India with different hair styles, skin color, clothing and of different age. Dove has managed to capture the broad essence of Indian women all in one add.

How to Explore the Market Through Engaging Customers?

We’ve witnessed how well Dove utilizes its marketing channels via different social media. Together with launching the above video Dove also created a Dove India account on Twitter. The company created double heat around the new add spot with engaging twitter users to elaborate on their views on the standards of beauty in their country.

By engaging users to elaborate on Dove’s campaign mission, the company did not only promote their products, but got feedback whether their strategy had the right approach. Dove triggered a new social media initiative via twitter (#PledgeRealBeauty) and Instagram for their “Dove Real Beauty Pledge” project. Women talk about the pressure of local stereotypes. Indian women speak how they feel uncomfortable when not fitting with the native standards of the female body such as weight and skin color.

How to Give Back Truthfully?

Local social engagement is key to a brands success. It boosts visibility and gives your brand recognition beyond the company’s logo. Engaging in important local issues and social causes creates a message about your company. As a truly global brand Dove launched a global campaign focused on the concept of self-beauty among young girls – “The Dove Self-Esteem project“.

We’ve written about the revolution of the role of women in Indian society. Dove has recognized the importance of current social movements by also engaging with younger female generations.

The company includes teachers and parents to encourage girls to think positively about themselves and the way they look. Organizers’ findings on the matter have shown that the project is crucial for building a new generation of positive-thinking and confident Indian women:

We discovered that 77% of girls had avoided a social or school-related activity, or, didn’t visit the doctor because of worries about their appearance. In fact only 1 in 10 of the girls we spoke to said they had high self-esteem.

Dove hopes to reach 2.65 million Indian girls by 2020. This way Dove shows it isn’t merely a profit oriented brand, but that it cares about the community of its customers. By engaging in important local causes the company has created a new base of customers in India for generations to come.

Are you curious about the specifics of the Indian market? Wish to know if there are new market opportunities for your brand far East? Get in touch with us and we’ll evaluate your chances.

Featured image source:

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