What unboxing means to brands

Unboxing the 'unboxing' phenomenon

Roger Paterson
By Roger Paterson
  • 18 April 2018
  • Reading time: 6 minutes
The phenomenon of unboxing

Receiving and opening a package is something that most people experience on a fairly regular basis - so why then has there been such a dramatic rise in popularity in 'unboxing' videos on websites like YouTube?

If you’re not familiar with the phenomenon of unboxing videos, well, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Usually, they feature someone opening an item (which could be anything from a children’s toy to the latest smartphone), unpacking it and providing a sort of live commentary/review of the experience. Sounds pretty simple, right?! Perhaps, but we believe there’s more than meets the eye with these videos and just how popular they’ve become.

Take, for example, this recent upload featuring the iPhone X from hugely popular product reviewer, Marques Brownlee. A textbook example of unboxing. With over 10 million views at the time we’re writing this, there’s clearly an allure in what’s happening that goes beyond simply finding out more about a certain product. Almost no details are spared. While the box and packaging that the phone come in might seem irrelevant, the video doesn’t skim over the packaging. The phone and all its shiny new features are of course the hero and take up most of the footage, but Brownlee and other ‘unboxers’ definitely recognise the ceremony and experience that comes with receiving a new product. In fact, he even uses the word ‘experience’ in his commentary. There’s a palpable feeling, and a spike in frenetic emotions in this unboxing ritual.

It’s this behaviour that leading organisations seem to be well aware of too. Take Amazon, for example. Its rather plain, but instantly recognisable, cardboard boxes took centre stage in a recent christmas campaign all about the joy of giving and receiving. It’s a thought that’s based on the fact that, when we buy or receive something it’s not simply a purchase or delivery, it’s an event to be savoured. Those first moments of unboxing are what counts towards the first impression we get of whatever it is we’re buying… or whoever’s sent us this item.

Packaging is a big part of the brand experience and an excellent opportunity to make exactly the right kind of first impression, forming the basis of a rock-solid foundation for the customer-supplier relationship. As Joey Tribbiani once lamented in an episode of ‘Friends’; ‘When the package is this pretty, no one cares what’s inside.’ While it might not be true that polished aesthetics can mean your audience will completely ignore the contents, we think he may well be onto a basic truth about branding; what’s on the outside really counts!

Do you have any thoughts on unboxing? Or are you looking to create the same sort of experience for your colleagues or clients? Why not get in touch to find out how we can help. 

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