Identifying and marketing to the target audience is perhaps the number one goal for businesses. It allows brands to directly appeal to and connect with those who use a product or service. 

The Dove brand, for example, has succeeded in making itself a household name and its Real Beauty campaign has helped set the brand apart from the competition. While Dove has held a segment of the natural beauty market since its inception in 1957, the Real Beauty campaign took it a step further by speaking authentically to its target audience. 

It started with a survey of 3,000 women, from ten different countries. When the results indicated that only 2% of the women surveyed considered themselves attractive, Dove saw the opportunity to redefine beauty. 

Discovering that both women and young girls were struggling with self-esteem and beauty-related pressure issues, Dove responded with the Real Beauty Pledge, which vowed to always feature every day women in their ad campaigns, rather than idealized models and portray women and girls as they are in real life to help build body confidence and self-esteem. 

Ads of sketch artists asking women to tell them how they think they look, followed by kinder, beautiful portraits drawn based on how they were really perceived flooded the Internet and television screens while sped-up videos of women being made to look unrecognizable to fit  modeling standards flooded social media. By recognizing its customers' insecurities, and speaking to their needs, Dove was able to take advantage of digital marketing techniques to reach their audience. 

Dove facilitated the building of a community of women using a variety of methods including hashtags, billboard ads with voting results, and unique photographs of women using untouched images in an era where photoshopping to perfection was the norm. 

Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches presented another innovative take on the issue of body image. Their three minute video received over 50 million views within the first 12 days of its release. Its powerful message of, “You’re more beautiful than you think,” resonated with their audience. It clearly showed how many women don’t recognize their own beauty as others do. 

The Real Beauty campaign nearly doubled their sales within the first ten years. But they did not stop there. Two years after Real Beauty launched, Dove released the Self-Esteem Project,  offering users a web portal with access to educational materials including articles, videos, forums and workshops centered around building self-esteem. 

It’s important to understand that this international, multi-million dollar campaign began with Dove  just seeking to understand their target audience. Dove’s survey sparked the idea for a game-changing campaign that led to remarkable results. Taking the time to understand the needs and experiences of your target audience could propel your brand to the next level.

Channel integration has also allowed the brand to maintain consistency. Whether using paid-advertising, social media, videos, print or outdoor ads, Dove’s consistent messaging has increased its brand awareness and loyalty. 

The community that Dove has built around their brand with user-generated content, hashtags, and online support groups has formed an alliance of loyal customers. 

Partnerships with other platforms and influencers has been another successful move. Dove’s #Speak Beautiful partnership with Twitter in 2015 increased brand sentiment by 17%.   

Dove’s remarkable success is based on its ability to target their audience and speak to their needs. Connecting with and building a community of followers has helped the brand remain relevant and consistently ahead of its competitors. 

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