Worth the Risk?
In the early 2000s, Dove was one of many soap products in a crowded and over-saturated market. Dove conducted a global survey which showed that only 4% of women regarded themselves as beautiful and that most regarded true beauty as something they could not hope to attain. Drawing upon these findings, Dove committed to reshape an engrained standard of beauty, which was largely a concept constructed around limited ideals of physical attributes defined by the mass media.
In response, in 2004, Dove created “The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.” The approach was to begin a series of ads featuring women of varying shapes, sizes, and complexations, but all identified as beautiful. Dove aimed to reshape and drive the conversation around beauty in the industry and in society. The campaign has evolved to include educational and self-esteem programs for young girls, supported through the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, which has now reached over 17 million girls worldwide.
BAV’s Brand Equity model quantifies and tracks the performance of thousands of brands like Dove Personal Care through the evolution of its brand perception after the launch of the “Real Beauty” campaign. The PowerGrid shows that Dove moved from the Mass Market space into the Leadership Space within only 2 years of the campaign launch and has remained as a Leadership brand 12 years later.
In fact, digging deeper into the Brand Equity of Dove before (2003) and after (2005) the launch of “Real Beauty” campaign, we find that the brand made substantial stride in all four Equity Pillars. Energized Differentiation reflects the brand’s momentum and direction in the marketplace, and it’s a strong predictor of financial performance. Dove managed to raise its differentiation score by 20% in one year after the launch, and in 2015, it was more differentiated than 62% and of the 3000 brands tracked by BAV that year in the US. Dove also became a more respected and regarded brand in the US following the launch of the “Real Beauty” campaign, with an Esteem rank score of 87%. Today, Dove is among the top 10% of most respected brands in the US.
How did Dove’s brand perception change from 2003 to 2005? By calculating the delta between the personality attribute scores of these two years, we identified the attributes which increased by more than 10% after the campaign.
Dove was given more credit for being a forward-thinking leadership brand that is relatable and authentic. This shift in brand personality moved the brand beyond just being a bar of soap to consumers, but rather a brand that advocated and celebrated the consumer, who in turn, believed in and identified with the social purpose of the brand.
CVS Pharmacy, similar to Dove, went against traditional practice by halting the sales of cigarettes across the US in 2014. The first major pharmacy chain in America to do so, the drug store chain said that it was the right thing to do- even though it would hurt sales. This decision caused people to buy 95 million fewer packs of cigarettes in 13 states in one year.
Today, Millennials are more dedicated to wellness than the older generation, and they are more likely to devote time and money to exercising and eating right. As young millennials pursue wellness, they’re also turning away from unhealthy habits like smoking tobacco. In fact, in a study conducted by Monitoring the Future, 83% of millennials were found to be against smoking one or more packs of cigarettes per day in 2013, as compared to 69% in 1990. We will focus on the impact of CVS’s move to stop cigarette sales on millennial perception of the brand.
CVS became a more powerful brand among millennials 2 years after its decision to terminate all sale of tobacco. Growing in both Brand Stature and Strength, CVS managed to stay ahead of the industry and be viewed as more of a market leader with a burgeoning reputation.
Since taking the risk to end tobacco sales, CVS has become more appealing to Millennials, who show an increase in respect and regard for the brand. Additionally, the young consumers also view the brand as much more differentiated than prior to the initiative. At BAV, we found that one of the most productive ways to drive the brand forward is to focus on growing Esteem in a Differentiated way, which we call “Admired Differences,” or “Brand Love”. The valuable progress that CVS made in the last 3 years may be attributed to the fact that its purpose for promoting health resonated with the beliefs and lifestyle of the young consumers, who in turn see the brand as one they can align themselves with, garnering Brand Love.
Eighteen months after pulling tobacco products from its shelves, CVS expanded its mission by launching the “Be the First” initiative to help deliver the first tobacco-free generation. Through comprehensive education, advocacy, and partnership with the public health community, the company aims to prevent tobacco use among youths and young adults. Similar to Dove’s Self-Esteem programs for young girls, the “Be the First” campaign helps the company communicate to consumers how its purpose creates social change and benefits the communities around them.
A recent study conducted by the American Journal of Public Health found that consumers who bought cigarettes at CVS stores were 38% more likely to stop buying cigarettes after the removal of tobacco from the stores. The movement of altering and disrupting purchasing behavior proved out to create positive impact in ways that not only benefits the company, but also its loyal consumers.
Taking a look at how CVS Pharmacy improved on emotional attributes over the last 3 years, BAV uncovered that among millennials, CVS has become a more respectable, stand-out, trendy brand that is forward-thinking and progressive- attributes often reserved for newer, technology-based brands.
In the long-run, if more companies like Dove and CVS envision themselves as more than just a transactional company of goods and services, but rather as culture-altering leaders whose meaning and purpose extends beyond the shelves on the stores but into the hearts and minds of consumers, we will grow to identify with these brands and the tangible value they bring to our lives.