In an era of information overload, organisation’s need to be able to systematically gather, record and analyse data relating to the marketing of goods and services for the purposes of important decision-making.
Success of an organisation is hinged on sound decisions, and sound decisions are the outcome of relevant, clear, complete, accurate, timely, objective and authentic information (Sontakki 2010).
So what process do organisations and their marketeers have to supports this function?
Marketing research…of course!
Marketing research provides in-depth information to an organisation about buyer behaviour, product or brand preferences, product usage, advertising awareness, sales and promotion, distributor behaviour, physical distribution, and competition (Sontakki 2010).
The range and scope of research methods is vast. Many questions need to be asked before proceeding with any research including:
How will you gather your information – from primary or secondary sources or both?
What type of information will you collect – quantitative or qualitative or both?
The marketing research Dove has undertaken over the past decade exemplifies the way in which marketing research can be used to increase profits and market share, but also use data and research to make a culturally positive difference and run a campaign based on a moral position.
The Dove brand is rooted in listening to women. Dove has commissioned a number of major global studies, including The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report (Etcoff et al. 2004) to really understand women and change the societal notions about beauty.
To inform the structure and content of the study Dove firstly commissioned a global literature review, which example existing research on beauty, appearance and self-worth.
The Real Truth About Beauty study consisted of 3,200 respondent telephone surveys, conducted among women aged 18 to 64 in 10 countries. Each interview lasted between 20 and 25 minutes, native speakers in their own language interviewed respondents. Interviews were conducted in the following countries: US, Canada, Great Britain, Italy, France, Portugal, Netherlands, Argentina and Japan.
Data was weighted for each country to ensure accurate representations by age, marital status, income/social class, ethnicity and region. The margin of sampling error at the 95% level of confidence is +/- 1.7 for total respondents. This margin of error is small, particularly at the global level, making the data highly reliable.
The findings of the report launched the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. The campaign started a global conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty after the study proved the hypothesis that the definition of beauty as become limiting and unattainable (Unilever 2016). It appears that the word ‘beauty’ has become functionally defined as ‘physical attractiveness’, which is powerfully communicated through the mass media and assimilated through popular culture.
#ChooseBeautiful is the latest iteration of Dove’s polarising yet phenomenally successful campaign, named by Ad Age as the best advertising campaign of the 21st century.
But what makes such a morally just and socially conscious campaign so polarising?
In 10 years, it has reportedly helped boost Dove sales from USD $2.5 billion to $4 billion (Ciambriello 2014).
So while Dove’s marketing research is based on both qualitative and quantitative data collected from primary and secondary sources, its empowerment marketing technique has worked amazingly well to boost the proceeds to Dove’s hip pocket.
While social commentary of the morality of this is rife, let’s not forget the primary objective of a for-profit organisation:
It could be considered a win for society when money making is also paired with successful marketing research leading to social change and enlightenment.
Dove has successfully used marketing research to marry social change with a brand that women want to be associated with. Women like what the brand is doing. Women want to be involved. Women want change!
Dove has built a marketing campaign empire that is ground breaking, brave, bold, insightful, transparent and authentic….and they’ve used sophisticated marketing research to do it.
Ciambriello, R 2014, ‘How ads that empower women are boosting sales and bettering the industry’, Advertising Week, 3 October, retrieved 2 April 2016, <http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/how-ads-empower-women-are-boosting-sales-and-bettering-industry-160539>.
Etcoff, N, Orbach, S, Scott, J and Agostino, H 2004, The truth about beauty: a global report, Dove, retrieved 2 April 2016, <http://www.dove.us/docs/pdf/19_08_10_The_Truth_About_Beauty-White_Paper_2.pdf>.
Neff, J, 2016, ‘Top 15 ad campaigns of the 21st century’, Advertising Age, retrieved 17 April 2016, <http://adage.com/lp/top15/#realbeauty>.
Sontakki,C. N, 2010, Marketing research, Himalaya Publishing, Girgaon, Mumbai.
Unilever, 2016, The Dove campaign for beautiful, retrieved 2 April 2016, <http://www.dove.us/Social-Mission/campaign-for-real-beauty.aspx>.