Dove: Competitive Advantage through Positioning and Differentiating

A brand is only as good as its ability to successfully differentiate itself from its competitors in the market and favourably position the brand in the mind of the consumer to gain a competitive advantage. This blog post will address how the Dove brand has successfully positioned and differentiated itself, how it has managed to gain a competitive advantage over its competitors and will highlight the importance of differentiation and positioning for the brand. Lastly, it will look at the ramifications for the brand due to its successful positioning and differentiation.

In 1957 Dove launched, it differentiated itself from competitors by positioning itself as a “beauty bar” as opposed to a soap (like its competitors), and emphasised that it contained ¼ moisturising cream, was gentle and was not drying to the skin like other brands in the category. As the years went by, competitors started to mimic the brand in terms of its moisturising aspect. Dove had to look at new ways to evolve and further differentiate itself in the market and gain a competitive advantage.

soap old
Dove print advert differentiating itself from competitors, source:       

This was how “the real beauty” campaign was born in 2003. This campaign was unconventional in the sense that it stood to redefine unrealistic beauty standards by showcasing women of all sizes, and across age, with all of their flaws and imperfections, which were portrayed as beautiful, self-assured and confident women. It spoke to the masses of women who deal with self-confidence issues and reassured them that they are beautiful as they naturally are. Due to the unconventional boldness of the campaigns commercials and advertisements, significant conversation was generated both on and offline of the brand, including media coverage. This new positioning strategy was great for the brand in the sense that it generated free publicity and increased brand awareness. Dove sales increased by 700% during the first half of the year after the launch.


The functional product benefit such as gently, moisturising and not drying to the skin has remained the core differentiating factor about the brand. The brand has managed to further differentiate itself by offering intangible value to consumers. It has done this by positioning itself as endorsing realistic beauty standards by encouraging real natural beauty in order to build consumers (especially women) self-confidence, self-esteem and ultimate self-acceptance across all consumer touch points. By doing this, it has managed to resonate with its target market who believe and buy into the brand for what it represents and stands for, in support of the movement towards celebrating realistic beauty standards. No other brand in its category has authentically achieved this and Dove has gained a competitive advantage in its category due to this positioning strategy.

(Dove commercial, Source:

Dove also differentiates itself from its competitors by consistently communicating and endorsing real natural beauty, self-confidence and self-acceptance across all platforms (commercials, print adverts, website and social media) by featuring imagery of real ordinary women. It is also the only brand in its category that distinguishes itself by taking a real beauty pledge not to distort or visually enhance any of their images of women. No other competitor can promise this. Furthermore, Dove encourages dialogue and invites women to join the conversation about beauty across their various social media platforms. This develops a sense of community with the consumers, encourages engagement with the brand and also allows consumers to establish a connection with the brand. The Dove brand uses a customer-focused approach and the brand is positioned as having the consumers best interest at heart in wanting to empower consumers to be confident in their own skin as they naturally are. Dove gains a favourable place in the consumers mind in this instance as this is not done by competitors in the personal care category.

Dove social media post, source:
no digital distortion
No digital distortion of images, source:—dove.html

Furthermore, unlike other brands in its category, Dove differentiates itself by utilising a cause marketing approach through its social mission initiatives to illustrate that dove is committed and believes in what it portrays to be endorsing. The “Dove Self Esteem Project which looks at self-esteem education to build self-confidence and empower women and girls across the world to reach their full potential. This positions the brand as being committed to creating social value and helps to distinguish the brand from competitors. Consumers emotionally buy-in to the brand from this aspect as they feel that they are doing the right thing to help other women and girls that may be struggling with self-esteem/confidence issues. This is also beneficial for the brand in the sense that it establishes a base of customers that are brand loyalty and customers are more likely to pay more for a brand that is committed to creating community value (Nielson Global Online Survey; 2015) The brand can, therefore, ask a higher price as the perceived value is high.

self esteem
Dove Self-esteem project, source:

Dove products are positioned as a personal care product that caters to the everyday women across the world. They predominately focus on positioning their brand around aspects of femininity and beauty that speak to the female market. The brand is positioned unlike other brands in the personal care products category in that it aspires women to embrace their natural looking beauty as they are regardless of their shape, size, age or race with the aims to celebrate realistic beauty standards and ideals. 

Dove has successfully managed to have a competitive advantage in its category because it has looked beyond the product features of the brand to differentiate itself by focusing on endorsing realistic beauty standards in a beauty-obsessed culture. It achieves this through its effective positioning strategy that resonated with their target market in positioning the brand favourable in the mind of the consumer. This has meant tremendous success for the brand in establishing brand equity, brand loyalty and sales.

What other brands do you think have successfully positioned and differentiated itself?


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