Unboxing the Unboxing Phenomenon
Unboxing is all the rage these days — but what is it exactly? Practically everyone, from influential celebrities to would-be vloggers, have been hard at work posting videos that delve into the finer details of product packaging. Somewhere down the line, the mundane act of opening a box transformed. What used to be a quick, unglamorous, and forgettable activity became one filled with pomp and circumstance. Don't get us wrong though. We love a good unboxing video.
How did we get here? Let’s unpack. In this article, we’ll explore:
- What is unboxing
- An unofficial history of unboxing
- How unboxing can help your brand
- How to create a unique unboxing experience
What Is the “Unboxing Experience”?
The textbook definition of unboxing means to remove from a box. Looking at how the term is used nowadays, however, the word has evolved to refer to the act of documenting oneself or another person opening a packaged product and displaying, reviewing, and showing off the contents.
The unboxing phenomenon didn’t happen overnight. It started way back in the 2000s, at the infancy of the internet. The videos uploaded during this focused mostly on tech gear, such as personal computers, gaming consoles, and other gadgets. In 2005, a tech website named Gear Live registered the domain unboxing.com and had it redirect to the site’s dedicated unpacking videos. At first, unboxing involved a simple documentation of what consumers can expect to find inside retail packaging – does the gadget come with a remote, is there an instruction booklet, and so on.
The concept eventually caught on and spread like wildfire. The unboxing experience captures people’s fascination and covers practically all product categories. No matter how niche a product may seem, there will be an audience for it. As the old saying goes, there’s something for everyone. The videos are educational and provide viewers with an accurate representation of what to expect with a product. It also has an aspirational aspect as people like to live vicariously through watching.
Can Unboxing Really Help Your Brand?
Unboxing videos are effective when done right. Especially in the digital age, it provides you with a platform to showcase your products. What’s great about these videos is that the whole premise plays out slow – vloggers go to great length discussing every minute detail of your packaging and products, giving your product the chance to shine.
Rake in Those ViewsThe best-case scenario for unboxing videos is the opportunity to go viral. With a little luck (or tons of it), a video can go nuclear and spread awareness about your business while at the same time, reach untapped markets. As an example of just how big a single video can get, this unboxing of a Play-Doh ice cream cupcake playset has over 800 million views. The reach and exposure that an unboxing video affords your product are unimaginable. This isn’t just an outlier, too. There are more than 40 unboxing videos right now that have more than 10 million views.
When a video does go viral, it can fundamentally change your business overnight. It’s that powerful. A great example of how viral marketing can transform a business for the better is Candy Funhouse. They noticed the trend and opportunity for online content to reach a wider audience. The candy company took to TikTok and created visually stimulating videos that enchanted viewers all over the world. They now have 2.8 million followers and 37 million likes on the social media platform. Remember that no matter how mundane or how ordinary your products might seem, there will always be an audience for them. It’s up to you to create engaging content to keep those eyes and phones glued to your channel.
Even if the unboxing video doesn’t go viral, the audience for this content remains as voracious as ever. All you need to do is to look how well it’s performing in the top three social media platforms. The hashtag #unboxing on Instagram has over three million posts. Over on YouTube, a quick search will yield over 90 million hits. Tiktok is even more impressive, with a whopping 30 billion views on #unboxing videos to date.
Feel the RushPart of the charm of unboxing videos is how addictive it can get. You can innocently watch one or two, and before you know it, hours have passed, and you have an intimate knowledge of different packing peanuts and liners. It’s easy to get lost down the rabbit hole of content.
A big reason why unboxing videos are so compelling is because one doesn’t normally encounter it in the wild – you search for it. It’s a topic or a product that you have at the very least, a vague interest in. You don’t randomly click content related to bike smart trainer unboxing, for example. It’s something that you are actively thinking about and want to know more about. It could be you’re considering making a purchase, or shopping around and comparing it to a similar product.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is the aspirational aspect of unboxing. High-end products and premium brands are out of reach for the most part so unboxing video fans stay glued to content creators that buy or are gifted with these packages. They share the excitement of opening up every layer of packaging, giving you a peek at what it’s like. There’s a rush in watching the unboxing process of something unattainable. There’s no jealousy here, only pure satisfaction.
Influence Purchase BehaviorA major character in the saga of unboxing is the influencer, also known as a key opinion leader. These are content creators who have amassed a loyal following and can sway public opinion. They know their fans and interact with them every day. Bigger influencers broker deals with brands themselves while neophyte ones tend to create content out of pocket. You can be proactive and offer them a complimentary product that they can review. Grab the opportunity to harness their influence, but make sure to be strategic about it.
Fans of these content creators can be fickle. They want to see genuine products, not simple paid posts and mindless shilling. If you’re dealing with influencers, make sure that they are knowledgeable about your product and that your product is something they’ll likely use on a daily basis. They don’t necessarily have to be in the same industry as you. Being believable, genuine, and sincere will get you far. If it’s fake and disingenuous, you’ll get called out and clowned for your attempts. Remember how big of a train wreck it was when Kendal Jenner singlehandedly achieved world peace with a can of Pepsi?
Speaking of different industries, tapping an influencer outside of your normal line can help lead fresh eyes to your business. A good example would be when Japanese car maker Subaru tapped extreme sports content creator Devin Graham. The viral video had Graham and his friends using a slip and slide over a 500-foot cliff with a new Subaru Impreza waiting down below to take them to their next location. It’s far from an obvious pairing, but Graham’s 5 million subscribers, who are mostly millennials, got exposed to a car brand they might otherwise not have known about.
While it’s beneficial to prioritize influencers who already have a large following, you can also take a chance on those just starting out. These content creators are also known as micro-influencers. The deals with them tend to be cheaper or even free! Usually, you can just send them a free product that they can use for unboxing content. It’s a win-win scenario. They get new items they can use as content for their channel while you get publicity. A potential issue with new creators is that their audience might be low or even non-existent. On the flip side, these influencers tend to be extremely niche, so if you win them and their fans over, you’ve got customers for life. It will have to be a judgement call on your part.
Are influencers worth it? There’s data to support it. In a 2021 consumer study, 55% of those who watch unboxing videos claim the video convinced them to purchase the product. The more videos you have circulating, the bigger the chances that someone will find it and make the jump. With every video and every view, you’re positioning yourself for success.
Factoring in LoyaltyAll this action isn’t focused solely on new sales. Unboxing also helps boost customer loyalty. Maintaining and driving repeat business is arguably harder since viewers who have already bought from you already know what to expect. The key to engaging your customers is consistency and adding value.
To ensure brand loyalty, consistency is paramount. If an old customer watches an unboxing video and sees something amiss, like a missing piece or an obvious change in quality, they’ll immediately notice it. The next thing you know, they’re going ballistic in the comment section or sending a very angry email. The expectation from you was set the moment they opened up their own package. It’s up to you to consistently meet or even exceed that benchmark. You can make repeat purchases more memorable with value-added accents, such as thank you notes. It’s simple, but effective. If they have a positive customer experience with you, the chance of getting repeat business is higher.
You can also use unboxing videos to provide additional discounts to repeat buyers. Make a promotion that requires an unboxing video from them and in return, you’ll give them a coupon or a freebie. This works well for new businesses as it will help you amass content that you can use in the future.
How to Create a Unique Unboxing Experience
Now that we’ve established the merits of unboxing, how can one go about crafting a unique experience that will be etched in memory? The product quality must be top-notch first and foremost. Everything falls when the actual item in question fails to live up to the hype. With that said, here are a few tips to keep in mind to make your packages unbox video worthy:
- Personalize the Packaging Experience – Taking the extra effort to add a touch of personalization to a package will pay off in the long run. It can be as simple as using your customer’s name or include a discount coupon for future purchases. If you decide to do this, make sure that personalization extends to all customers, not just influencers or content creators.
- Use Creative Branded Packaging – As far as the unboxing experience goes, additional layers are golden. Adding inserts to your packaging builds anticipation and adds more drama to the unboxing experience. Make sure to use branded packaging essentials like custom tissue paper, labels or stickers to further elevate the whole experience. In a 2021 study, they found that 50% of shoppers will recommend your product if it came in gift-like or branded packaging. Aside from making the unboxing video look good and interesting, the extra layers also provide protection for the items while the package is in transit.
- Include Freebies for Gift-Like Product Unboxing – One of the most positive responses you’ll see in unboxing videos is when the user finds surprise gifts inside a package. If your budget permits, add something extra to your boxes to give the unboxing a little oomph. It can be something as simple as a sticker set, a discount voucher, product samplers, and so on. Getting free loot is always a welcome sight in any unboxing.
- Make It Easy to Open – While it may be funny to watch a vlogger get frustrated with ridiculously hard to open packaging, it’s no joke when you’re the one trying to do the unpacking. Packaging should be protective, but intuitive, fuss-free, and easy to open. This makes the whole unboxing experience smooth and frustration-free.
- Get People to Share – Social media marketing is powerful. You want all of your customers to post images or videos of your packages on their socials. In fact, 40% of consumers will share an image of your packaging on social media if it was unique or branded. Make sure to make it easy for them. If it’s too plain or simply ugly, they won’t bother. Set your brand for success by dialing in the design right from the get-go. Make it attractive enough that you yourself would want to flaunt it on social media.
- Say Thanks – Gratitude is underrated. Saying thank you is such a simple gesture but can be incredibly effective. A generic, printed message will suffice, but going the extra mile with a hand-written note is sure to win over the toughest of customers.
To summarize, it is crucial to offer a positive unboxing experience each and every time. Even if nine out of ten customers don’t care about the whole unpacking process, that one person who does can create a video that potentially reaches millions. It’s also a best practice for a business to always put its best foot forward. Being consistent day in and day out is integral to success. By consistently offering positive experiences to customers, you set your business apart from the competition.