Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

Share a Secret/USA Building a solid base of loyal customers is tough enough. But turning loyal users into active proselytizers for the brand? C’mon. That’s what Unilever managed to pull off through this imaginative loyalty-cum-sampling program for Dove brand beauty soap.

Dove is a leader in a category that has become overly crowded with competition, from national to boutique to value brands. Add to that the fact that Dove’s business is heavily reliant on longtime loyalists, and you have a prescription for a product trial program. Sampling was also suited to its purposes because of the high percentage of brand switchers in the category.

Looking to increase trade shipments, drive merchandising, and increase average monthly takeaway levels, Unilever deployed Share a Secret. The idea: Get the loyals to win over the switchers.

It kicked off with a national FSI aimed at women 22-to-44 delivering a high-value coupon and a value-added offer of free product for proofs-of-purchase. Consumers who took advantage of the offer received certificates good for two free bars of Dove or $2.29 off the purchase of Dove Ultra Moisturizing Body Wash. Certificates were customized with retailers’ logos to drive traffic to outlets that supported the program in-store with Shelf Take Ones and tearpads.

Here’s where new users came in. The coupon mailer also offered to send a gift package to a friend of the consumer’s, who was asked to give that person’s name and address and write her a personalized note.

The recipient (with any luck a switcher) got a nice freebie, the promo participant got credit for sending it, and Dove gained trial as well as the names and addresses of both friends to add to its database.

Some 90 percent of consumers who participated in the free product offer supplied the name of a friend, a participation rate 80 percent higher than Unilever marketers had expected. Best of all, Dove’s market share during the promotion period rose 10 percent over the previous year.


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