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Insight: Unilever’s Dorothy Dee-Ching leads the country’s most well-loved brands through Positive Beauty

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — The world of beauty may be exciting, but the beauty industry has not been without its share of challenges, especially when it comes to perpetuating limited definitions of beauty standards that affect women’s self-image. Unilever’s Beauty & Personal Care aims to address these by promoting beauty, self-love, and empowerment through Positive Beauty – Unilever’s commitment to building a beauty and personal care portfolio that does more good, not just less harm, for people and the planet.

Unilever Philippines’ Beauty & Personal Care Vice-President Dorothy Dee-Ching tells us more about this. “At Unilever, we believe in the power of brand purpose; both in its impact to society and business growth. As one of the biggest advertisers in the Philippines, we know we can create positive impact through how we portray people in media and our advertising. Positive Beauty promotes a new era of beauty that is inclusive, equitable, and sustainable.”

As Dee-Ching explains, “With our brands such as Dove, Cream Silk, and Love, Beauty & Planet, we want to champion a new era of beauty that is inclusive to all kinds of beauty, equitable as we strive to provide equal opportunities for women, and sustainable for the planet- demonstrating genuine care for all.”

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According to Dee-Ching, it was important to their team that Unilever’s Positive Beauty purpose was clearly communicated in the brand campaigns for their products. “People increasingly expect companies and brands to take a stand on issues they care about the most. Within our industry, we know consumers are looking for change. In a commissioned global study, results show that 56% agree the industry can make people feel excluded and 74% believe that the industry should advocate for a broader definition of beauty.”

“Positive Beauty aims to respond to these increasing demands and drive real change. With our products present in nine out ten Filipino homes, we want to use our scale for good and develop products that will serve diverse needs, delivering real consumer benefits, while also bringing meaningful change to how we perceive beauty today. “

The Beauty and Personal Care VP understands the implications of a more positive messaging, after having gone through similar challenges herself. “As a young mother then, I remember struggling with the pressure of becoming a perfect parent after reading so much literature on how to best raise a baby and following many social media pages of picture-perfect mothers. No matter how prepared I thought I was, I must say that there were new surprises every day and that reality was so different from expectations which made me anxious on whether I was doing a good enough job. Baby Dove’s reminder that “there are no perfect moms, just real ones” and showing real moms in their real everyday situations was truly a breath of fresh air, empowering me to trust my own way and not be pressured to keep up with society’s demands.”

Reflecting on her own experience, Dee-Ching applies her personal learnings into her stewardship of Unilever’s beauty brands. “Putting oneself in someone else’s shoes is always important to deeply understand and fully appreciate their context. Having lived through the many stages of womanhood has definitely helped me become more empathetic in leading our many beauty and personal care brands. My own experience is just one reason why I am personally passionate about using our brands as a force for good –– I truly believe that we can make a real impact in the lives of the people we serve.”

The Unilever Philippines’ Beauty and Personal Care Vice President talks to adobo about how Positive Beauty impacts their brands such as Pond’s, Dove, and Cream Silk, and its real-life results.

You talked about the initiatives you launched (Ponds Skin Analyzer, Baby Dove’s #RealMomsVillage, Cream Silk #ConditionedforGreater Academy). Can you walk us through the decision and conceptualization behind these? How did it pivot during the pandemic?

We always put consumers at the heart of everything we do. Therefore, it is important for us to first know the key issues women are facing in the different stages of their lives. We started with Get Real. This helps us understand where our brands could play a role to help and empower them in a very real and authentic way. Then we consider how our brands can Do Good, because it’s not just in what we say that is important, but more so in what we do for our consumers and our communities. Only then can we push our brands to Be Unmissable, by putting creativity and technology for our brands to stand out in culture and be effortless to buy.

The pandemic pushed us to re-evaluate if there was more that we could do given the situation and to be creative in how we talk and engage our consumers.

You shared that Pond’s Skin Analyzer earned 7.4x lift in conversion rates with a 94% satisfaction. Why was this campaign so successful? How did your consumers connect with the brand in this aspect?

The Pond’s SAL Campaign was successful because it addressed relevant consumer pain points of being overwhelmed by the plethora of skin care choices and the challenge of not being able to do face-to-face consultation and testing.

Pond’s Skin Advisor Live is the country’s 1st AI Chatbot that enabled the brand to identify women’s specific skin needs and offer a personalized skin care regimen for them to follow at the comforts of their own home for free.

In coming up with Baby Dove’s Real Mom’s Village, why was it important for your team to go through the efforts of shaping an active community, with webinars and various expert panels?

With Baby Dove’s #RealMomsVillage, we wanted to build a community of moms who are going through the same life stages to be able to provide them with easy access to content, events, products, and discounts that is relevant to their respective motherhood stage. With webinars and expert panels, we are able to help our target audience navigate through motherhood easier by providing them with educational content suited to their needs such as Lamaze classes for pregnant moms, breastfeeding tips to new moms, or even the right ingredients to look for in your baby products as your baby grows, among many others.

Can you talk more about Cream Silk’s #ConditionedforGreater Academy and how it is making a real change to consumers’ lives?

Cream Silk has always championed the empowerment of the Filipina inspiring her to never settle for just good, but to always strive for greater. Beyond just talking about its brand purpose, Cream Silk is committed to help Filipinas become better and land better opportunities. Thus, the brand partnered with Edukasyon.ph to launch the #ConditionedForGreater Academy where Filipinas can avail of free certificate courses to equip themselves with important skills needed for employment. This earns them a digital learning badge which serves as a fastpass to prospective employers.​ Cream Silk then effectively closes the loop by linking our course completers to partner hiring companies for job interviews. Happy to share that as of June, we now have a total of 25,000 enrollees, 15,000 graduates and over 5,000 job applications being processed. From where we started just a few months ago, we have already been able to facilitate several employment opportunities making a huge impact to the women’s lives.

As a woman in the C-Suite, were there any specific challenges you faced in your leadership? How did you overcome them?

I am proud to work in Unilever where we strive to build a fairer, more socially inclusive world and where we champion Diversity, Equity and & Inclusion (DE&I). In fact, we have a gender-balanced board leadership and the same is reflected in managerial roles across Unilever. The company has been progressive in pushing the DE&I agenda across genders, work levels, ethnicities, and disabilities. Let us also remember that DE&I is doesn’t stop at work. C-Suite is a professional leadership title, but we are also leaders in society, in our families and our communities. There’s always a space for us to practice diversity, equity and inclusiveness in everything we do.

At Unilever, we believe that everyone can contribute in her or his own distinct and special way. That’s the reason why respect and equity are foundational values we expect from everyone working for our brands. Women are generally known to be more intuitive but we are trying to go beyond stereotypes, we know people deliver better on their role when the things they do are aligned with their own personal purpose and individuality.

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