The motivation behind purchasing Dove products and its brand stem from the esteem needs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The theory is among the essential explanations for motivating individuals, which represents the pyramid that starts with the basic necessities, follows through with psychological needs, and ends with self-fulfillment needs (Hopper, 2020). The company’s campaign for “real beauty” was intended to promote customers’ self-worth and self-esteem as it showed examples of real women and their supposed “imperfections,” suggesting that these imperfections are what make those women perfect.
The campaign was instrumental in capturing the attention of many women who were highly relieved to see the diversity of feminine beauty being acknowledged by a beauty company. Thus, to boost their esteem, which is the need to be unique individuals with self-respect while also enjoying overall esteem from others. Therefore, to meet this need, customers will buy Dove’s products, especially considering the increased attention of the company to the diverse beauty of its consumers.
Theories of motivation allow for understanding reasons that drive people to work toward a specific goal or outcome. While there are various types of motivational theories, they are usually divided into extrinsic and intrinsic factors that explain why individuals may be encouraged to choose particular products or services. Extrinsic factors are external and involve exhibiting certain behaviors for avoiding punishments or receiving rewards. Intrinsic motivation comes from within consumers and is usually a long-term method for exhibiting some behaviors. Intrinsic factors are the ones that align with the decision to purchase Dove products as they can offer sensory experiences that can be considered pleasurable to consumers.
Reference groups are individuals that influence others’ opinions, beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes and can serve as role models and points of inspiration. For marketers, reference groups can be important because they have the capacity to influence the way in which consumers interpret information to make purchasing decisions (Kim & Qu, 2017). In Dove’s case, the reference groups serve as the key strategy for marketing its products and communicating the benefits of the products through the narrative of such groups.
Reference groups develop a sense of belonging, and the community developed around Dove products enables making choices and purchase decisions that the customers in such a community tend to make. The enabling of purchasing decisions in the context of reference groups is associated with the desire to fit it, which can be preoccupying to consumers. Customers usually compare themselves to others and worry about how they are being perceived by others. Therefore, buying specific products influenced by reference groups may improve one’s self-image.
The real beauty campaigns that made Dove famous are focused on showing images of real women of different ages, skin types, and skin colors. These physical characteristics appear interesting to the target audience because they promote the diversity of beauty so that the target audience of the campaign can recognize themselves in the ad and align themselves with the values of the brand. It is vital to note that the focus on the physical characteristics of Dove’s models that were used in the campaign is crucial for improving message comprehension.
It is instantly understandable to the target audience that the marketing campaign is about the diversity of beauty. However, it must be noted that the campaign promoting natural beauty was developed to gain a profit and not benefit consumers’ lives. It played on the feelings of customers who may have self-esteem issues and capitalized on them. Although this was an effective tactic that boosted Dove’s sales, the campaign’s ethics remain debated.
Besides Maslow’s theory of needs hierarchy, Dove’s campaign can also be studied from the perspective of Hawkins Stern’s impulse buying theory, which argues that sudden buying occurs as a result of external stimuli that almost have no relationship with traditional decision-making. There is no specific product that customers tend to buy out of impulse, so it can be everything (The Economic Times, 2021). Impulse buying is the process of making an unplanned purchase that is made as a result of irrational thinking. Marketers often use this tendency of customers to boost the sales of products that they are pushing. Thus, there is a high likelihood that consumers walk into stores and make purchases that they previously did not intend to do (Iyer et al., 2020).
The Dove ads are often highly visible on the streets on billboards and in stores where cosmetic products are displayed, usually with vivid imagery and signs for sales and brand offers, such as “buy three pay for two.” Seeing the ads, which are quite esthetically pleasing and communicate the message of diversity, consumers may impulsively purchase Dove products due to the consistent exposure to the advertisement campaign. As a result of the inclusive campaign that uses not models but regular women, public perception is formed in favor of the positive reputation of the brand that will benefit from the purchasing decisions made by their clients.
Hopper, E. (2020). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs explained. Web.
Iyer, G., Blut, M., Hong Xiao, S., & Grewal, D. (2020). Impulse buying: a meta-analytic review. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 48, 384-404. Web.
Kim, M., & Qu, H. (2017). The moderating effects of three reference groups on Asian pleasure travelers’ destination value. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 34(7), 892-904. Web.
The Economic Times. (2021). Definition of ‘impulsive buying’. Web.