Six packaging ploys that toiletries brands use to tempt you to buyThe techniques being used and why they work

20 September 2016

A Which? investigation has uncovered the tactics that manufacturers of toiletries use to tempt us to choose their products.

Product packaging may ultimately exist to contain a product and prevent it from spilling all over the floor, but manufacturers of everyday essentials such as shampoo, face cream and deodorant also use it to convince you to choose their products using a number of different ploys. 

We spoke to four academics who are marketing and psychology experts who gave us examples of some of these practices and why they work.

We’ve put six examples in the gallery below. Find out more about these strategies – and some of the others you’ll spot on the toiletries you buy – in our full Persuasive Packaging article in the October 2016 issue of Which? magazine. You can also acess it via the My Account area of and through our iPad app.

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Persuasive packaging tactics

Extra packaging and boxes

Boxes can be necessary – they protect products and make them easier to store and transport. But you’ll notice some products are sold in boxes while similar products aren’t. This can be a deliberate decision to make products seems more serious or medicinal than their competitors.

Fashion capitals

Name dropping London, Paris and New York summons to mind thoughts of fashion and luxury. It’s common for marketers to look to capitalise on that by putting references to these fashion capitals on their products. They’re not the only place names relied upon though – it’s also common for tanning products to be named after sunny destinations.

Especially for you

If marketers could come up with an easy way to put your name on their products, they’d probably relish the opportunity to get your attention. But, for now, they have to stick to communicating that a product is specifically for you in other ways. Labelling products as being ‘for men’ or ‘for women’ can be a simple way to differentiate a product and help encourage you to quickly pick it over its competitors.

Pink and blue

Where products are marketed to a particular gender, it usually doesn’t take long to figure out which is which even if they aren’t labelled ‘for men’ or ‘for women’ thanks to colours, imagery and buzzwords clearly aimed to appeal to one particular gender.


While lookalike products are not necessarily easily confused with the original product, lookalikes are designed to have a similar aura – they’ve been described as ‘winking’ at the original.

Technical jargon and buzzwords

Technical-sounding terms can be particularly persuasive – they give an air of competence. Sometimes they can make us believe a product is credible even when we don’t know what they mean – our experts called this ‘confusion marketing’.

More on this…