By  on December 10, 2004

NEW YORK — Since Dove expanded beyond the confines of the personal cleansing aisle nearly five years ago, the Unilever brand has found a welcome home in each new category where it has gained shelf space — namely, hair care, skin care and deodorants.

Its new real estate holdings and fattened product portfolio have doubled Dove’s U.S. sales within the last five years, pushing them to the $1 billion mark. Dove plans to augment its growth in the first half of 2005 with an aggressive new product lineup. 

While research and development increasingly play a role in Dove products, executives say they do not use technology for technology’s sake. Rather, they let the consumer decide how far to push the envelope.

Dove’s U.S. brand director Philippe Harousseau explained, “We launched a [beauty] bar almost 50 years ago based on a single promise — that it would not dry out your skin like other bars. And it didn’t. It truly set the stage for the contribution of research and development for our brand. Since the Fifties, science has evolved and accelerated, and the position we’ve taken is that these brands are going to deliver a noticeable difference. We take a very careful and responsible approach to science to make sure we’ve leveraged our resources without creating unnecessary products.”

He added that each new product must reflect Dove’s brand position by delivering a clear benefit in a simple, straightforward way. Dove realized its positioning had legs beyond cleansing when it began developing its hair care collection for the U.S. market. That insight paved the way for a facial care collection, which bowed in June 2003.

Two years after launching Dove Hair Care, the Unilever brand has identified hair styling as the next frontier to penetrate.

Its new 12-stockkeeping-unit styling collection will use technology found in Dove’s shampoos and conditioners: Weightless Moisturizers, ingredients designed to style and condition hair simultaneously.

Delivering on the line’s claim of “style with natural feel and movement” was a tall order. “All of the styling products have undergone three years of development to find the right balance of long-lasting hold and volume control — which are key elements of styling — and natural movement,” said Joanne Crudele, senior development manager, global technology center, Dove.

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