Dove’s “Real Beauty”:” The Science Behind Buying Behavior

Dove’s “Real Beauty”:” The Science Behind Buying Behavior

American culture is all about consumption. In the 20th century, advertising became more and more important for businesses as marketing mediums changed and the marketplace became more competitive. Most advertisers back then wouldn’t have predicted the increase in ads we’ve seen since the rise of the internet, however. In 1970, we were shown about 500 ads a day. Today, that’s grown to as many as 5,000. So how do advertisers cut through the noise and actually make sales? With emotion.

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The Power of Emotion and Storytelling in Advertising

As humans, we want to think that we make rational decisions when we buy. The truth is, however, that we’re far more likely to buy based on ads that tap into our emotions. Themes like pride, empathy, and love all tap into universal human experiences that create the urge to act. The data backs this theory up—in advertising campaigns that performed well, 31% used emotional content, while only 16% used rational content. Even something as color perception can have an impact on buying.

How Companies Put These Principles into Practice

Some of the most successful and memorable campaigns have used emotion as a basis, including Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign and Google’s “Friends Furever.” Real Beauty created a new narrative about women’s self-esteem and used empowerment to deliver their message. Friends Furever was not only cute, capitalizing on unusual animal friendships, it also used the power of friendship to connect and ended up as the most-shared ad of all time. Marketers can use joy and surprise to draw in consumers and create compelling ads.

Want to know more about how emotion can be used for better advertising? This infographic from the University of Southern California Dornsife’s Applied Psychology program has all the details.

Advertising And Psychology Buying Behavior real beauty

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Jacob Wolinsky is the founder of, a popular value investing and hedge fund focused investment website. Jacob worked as an equity analyst first at a micro-cap focused private equity firm, followed by a stint at a smid cap focused research shop. Jacob lives with his wife and four kids in Passaic NJ. - Email: jacob(at) - Twitter username: JacobWolinsky - Full Disclosure: I do not purchase any equities anymore to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest and because at times I may receive grey areas of insider information. I have a few existing holdings from years ago, but I have sold off most of the equities and now only purchase mutual funds and some ETFs. I also own a few grams of Gold and Silver

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