Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Sisley Eye Cream, You're Worth it!

Last weekend, I went to the beauty department in the Selfridges. Sisley (a French beauty brand) was displaying their exclusive beauty samples at the counter. The offer was "buy any two items and get a free gift bag with amazing samples”. Since Sisley rarely gives out free beauty samples, it looks super attractive to me. The sales approached, after I explained that I’ve just bought several products from the brand for my mom, she offered to give me the beauty gift as long as I buy one skincare item. The sales spent over 30 minutes persuading me to buy Sisley’s new eye cream. 

Celebrity endorsement 

The sales introduced the beauty samples with celebrities’ names, for example,  “ Kim Kardashian loves this mask” and “ Faye Wang’s favourite anti-age cream”. The influence of celebrities is powerful, it gives people a feeling of what celebrities use must be good because they see celebrities as role models and trustworthy (Raven et al., 1998). Besides, hearing this from the sales is more credible from seeing advertisement where celebrities use these products because they are paid to do so, customers will think it’s genuinely because the products are effective and high-quality .

Social proof

The sales introduced Sisley’s new eye cream, I refused because it was too expensive and it’s too early to use such enriched eye cream, although she kept saying that many young girls at their 20s who always stay up late, just like me, uses the eye cream. She also had many customers aged 18 bought it recently. This persuasion links with the influence of social proof  (Cialdini, 2009)  and high self-relevance (e.g. age and needs for eye care), it implicitly tells me that many people similar to me are using this product, so I should use it as well. The comparison between me and younger girls who were using the product seems to urge me to “start using the product now”. Since we belong to the same social group (e.g. abilities to afford and as international students), she expected me to keep up with those girls to maintain my social identity (Turner & Pratkanis, 1998) as I’m already left behind (Tajfel, 1981; Bartholomew, 2010). 


While I was struggling to fork out for the eye cream, I was told that the offer will end once beauty samples are all gave out and there were actually only a few left. The limited-quantity scarcity is an effective cue of its popularity and quality, which increases the persuasiveness of buying (Aggerwal, Jun & Huh, 2011). 


Aggarwal, P., Jun, S. Y., & Huh, J. H. (2011). Scarcity messages. Journal of Advertising, 40, 19-30.

Bartholomew, M. (2010). Advertising and Social Identity. Buff. L. Rev., 58, 931.

Cialdini, R. B. (2009). Influence: The psychology of persuasion (pp. 100-104). New York: Collins.

Raven, B.H., Schwarzwald, J. and Koslowsky, M. (1998), “Conceptualizing and measuring a power/interaction model of interpersonal influence”. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 28, 307-32.

Tajfel, H. (1981). Human groups and social categories: Studies in social psychology. CUP Archive.

Turner, M. E., & Pratkanis, A. R. (1998). A social identity maintenance model of groupthink. Organizational behavior and human decision processes, 73, 210-235.

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