Dove Pro-Age is a multi-category line of personal care products targeting 50+ women with a refreshingly authentic, and anti-“anti-age”, campaign.
Do a Google search on “marketing to women” and see what turns up. Marketing consultancies dedicated to this niche abound. There’s even an annual event—M2W, The Marketing to Women Conference—designed to “help businesses learn how to increase their emotional, cognitive and financial share of the powerful, dominant women’s market.”
So we must be on top of this, right? Surely, all the information brand marketers need to communicate effectively with this demographic should be at their fingertips. Or—as Unilever found when it set out to launch Dove Pro-Age—not.
Pro-Age is a multi-category line of products (face, body, hair care, deodorant) designed to expose what our anti-aging society has been hiding, says Dove. Pro-Age celebrates women ages 50 and older by showing their honest, real beauty. This marks the first time a major consumer products brand has targeted a line across all categories of personal care to this demographic, which research quickly showed was a group of consumers that felt misunderstood.
In fact, a staggering 91 percent of women ages 50 to 64 who were interviewed as part of the “Beauty Comes of Age” research project said they felt it was time for society to change its views about women and aging. And another 91 percent of the women surveyed thought that the media and advertising should do a better job of representing realistic images of women over the age of 50.
“There is something to be said about women who look stunning while looking their age. It seems the world of beauty requires being ‘anti-age’. But Dove is Pro-Age and believes that beauty has no age limit,” says Giovanni Valentini, Dove’s global brand director.
An honest approach
With idea in hand and armed with the research findings, Dove’s marketing and design teams enlisted branding and package design firm Raison Pure to develop the packaging, which would have to deliver on the brand’s direct and honest tone. The system would revolve around two main stories: copy and color.
The objective of the language on-pack was to establish direct communication with consumers, explains Laurent Hainaut, president of Raison Pure in New York. There is a positive and direct tone—a storytelling approach from the brand to consumers—that addresses a woman’s need for honest beauty solutions. The typeface is simple, clear, positive and appealing, using soft, rounded lower-case lettering.
Raison Pure aligned all of the visuals—paying special attention to color—with the goal of moving from “anti-age” to the notion of being “pro-age”. Designers eschewed more traditional colors like silver and grey in favor of a rich burgundy that speaks to consumers in a strong and confident tone, while lending an elegance and luminosity to the packaging.
“We know, because of the research, that communicating to women in this demographic with colors like silver or grey isn’t effective,” says Hainaut, “because [they don’t] want to be perceived as ‘aging’ or ‘mature’. They want to be spoken to as women, which is very simple to understand, but not that obvious when you look at packaging designed for this market for the past 20 years.”
The Dove Pro-Age line appeared in stores around the world in February 2007. The launch was supported by a global communications campaign created with internationally renowned photographer, Annie Leibovitz, an over-50-year-old woman herself. Much like the photographs in Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” initiative, this campaign features images of real women, literally uncovering all of their age spots, grey hair and curves, demonstrating that women are stunning—at any age.
“It is an incredibly honest approach,” says Hainaut. “I think this is one of the most inspiring brands out there.”
Dove’s global report was fielded in June 2006 in nine countries, including Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The research was conducted by StrategyOne, an applied research consulting firm, in collaboration with Dr. Robert N. Butler (International Longevity Center) and advisors Dr. Nancy Etcoff (Harvard University) and Dr. Susie Orbach (London School of Economics/Sociology Department).
International phone surveys were conducted among 1,450 women, ages 50 to 64, using the field services of Mori International. Varying based on respective country size, 150 women were questioned per nation; in the United States and Japan, 200 women were interviewed.
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