Master The Unboxing Experience: The Beginner’s Ultimate Guide


Looking for some free advertising, where your customers do all of the marketing for you?  

Savvy marketers know that social sharing is the way to go. And what better way to generate excitement about your products than to jump aboard the unboxing trend.

If you’re on social media at all, you’ve probably seen – or at least heard of – unboxing pictures and videos. Just check out these stats:

Why is this so important? 

Because, unboxing videos are now part of the research consumers do before making a purchase. Viewers are anywhere from 64-85% more likely to buy after watching a product video.

And let’s take a look at the social sharing success some individual companies are enjoying:

There’s no denying that unboxing videos have become incredibly popular. But how do you make your products Instagram, YouTube, or Pin-Worthy? 

So just how do you make the biggest impact on customers, unboxers, and anyone else paying attention once a sale is made? How can you create a memorable unboxing experience for your brand?

It turns out it doesn’t just have to do with the actual product. 

It starts with the packaging.  

What is an Unboxing Experience?

what is an unboxing experience packaging

First, it helps to understand just what exactly an unboxing experience means and why it’s so important to your customers.

The trends on YouTube and Instagram point to more than a fad. Unboxing videos are clearly growing in popularity. And they’re everywhere. They pop up on other social network platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and TikTok.

Basically, in its simplest definition, an unboxing is just that – a customer opening up and exploring a recent purchase they’ve made. Although many videos unbox items bought in a store, the vast majority center around buys made online.

In fact, product unboxing videos have become an integral part of the online buying experience. 

Whether it’s an influencer or enthusiastic shopper showing off their latest gets, or the communal experience shared by those watching, unboxing has extended the customer-brand relationship beyond the simple exchange of money and goods. 

Yes, there’s the element of living vicariously through others, but unboxing videos have a more practical appeal to those watching. They want to see those products in action.

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More than just the thrill of watching someone open a purchase like it’s a gift on Christmas Day, a number of viewers use the presentation to discover new brands. Learn what to expect with a hot new product. Or gain a more visceral, pre-purchase experience with something they want to buy. 

There’s little doubt that the once niche genre of unboxing videos has gone mainstream. With the explosive growth of both ecommerce and social media, it’s only expected to grow more feverish. 

So how can you make the unboxing work in your favor? Let’s next take a look at how unboxing directly impacts your brand.

What Unboxing Means for Your Brand

Admittedly, it all sounds a bit crazy, right? People buy a product, record themselves opening said product, then post the result online for all the world to see.

The popularity of unboxing has certainly grown organically over the years from the earliest unwrapping videos of a coveted flip phone or Blackberry (remember those?) or folks showing off big-dollar TVs. 

Of course, electronics remain the star of the unboxing show, but nowadays, it’s everything from cosmetics to toys to clothes to food. Search hard enough, and you’ll find people unfurling the wrapping on a medicine bottle. Seriously. 

Any product in any segment is ideal for an unboxing.

What hasn’t changed, though, is the exposure these videos provide for the featured brand. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want free advertising?

When you consider the reach that a social site like YouTube possesses, the appeal to have a product unboxed by a loyal customer or influencer is apparent

2 billion monthly users. 90% of people aged 18 to 44 access the site regularly. Another 90% of general users claim to discover new brands or products on the site.

Exactly. And that’s just YouTube.

We can’t put it more bluntly, unboxing videos present your brand a massive opportunity in three very specific ways.

Build an Identity with Branded Packaging

Build an Identity with Branded Packaging

First and foremost, your custom packaging, and by extension, unboxings, help your brand build its identity. 

It allows you a space in which to infuse your brand’s ideals, mission, and goals with a consumer. 

Sure, they might engage with you at your website or note an in-store display. However, few things can replace the hands-on feeling of flipping open a box and peeling back the layers of wrapping to discover what’s inside.

Is yours a luxury brand? A company that’s eco-friendly? Do you sell toys and a sense of whimsy for kids and adults alike? Is there a charitable cause that drives your brand’s ambitions? Or are you outdoorsy and athletic? Maybe it’s geeky with a pop-culture edge?

All of these ideals and imagery can be conveyed through your packaging. And it’s what shines through during the best unboxing videos.

If you’re having a hard time imagining the real power of your retail packaging, just consider some of the world’s most iconic brands.

Companies like Apple (sleek and modern), Tiffany & Co. (sophisticated and timeless), and Amazon (functional and straightforward) are known just as much for their packaging as they are the stuff they sell. Ditto for the Campbell Soup can or McDonald’s Happy Meal.

Think about it, you might own a smartphone from Samsung or Google, but we bet Apple’s custom packaging is the one you’d most likely recognize first.

And that’s what great, well thought out packaging does for your brand. It gets you noticed, helps tell your story, and demands more people pay attention.

Reach a Larger Audience Online

Speaking of attention, the real value of unboxing videos stems from their ability to reach large audiences or untapped segments of consumers.

Face it, regardless of how much market research you do to connect with your target audience, that exercise won’t reach everyone.

Why? Because you have a limited number of resources, which are mainly focused on touching your core audience. The people you know your products should appeal to.

That’s where a commitment to great packaging comes in to help extend those resources.

With unboxing videos, you never know who might be watching and what aspect of the unboxing experience might pique their interest. Always remember that regular consumers have a network of friends and connections who themselves have a network of friends and connections.

If an influencer gets a hold of one of your products and features within their sphere of connections, that reach expands even further.

And let us not fail to mention the value of a video going viral. Although most well-produced unboxing experience videos only reach a few hundred people (it’s a start, right), even better ones garner views in the thousands or tens of thousands.

Prolific influencers, such as YouTuber iJustine, draw millions of YouTube subscribers. She and other influencers like her produce unboxing videos that regularly top 500,000 to 1 million views over the course of a few months. 

These viral impressions can prove a colossal boost for any brand and a genuine shot in the arm for those wanting to connect with audiences beyond their current sphere of influence.

But it’s nearly impossible to do that unless you’ve got something that standouts and forces others to take notice. 

The point being is that you never know when your brand’s moment to shine might arrive. Your brand’s packaging always needs to be ready.

Drive Customer Loyalty with Great First Impressions

This might prove the most overlooked and undervalued aspect of packaging. And it plays a massive role in the popularity of unboxing videos.

First, the opportunity to make a standout first impression drives much of the initial brand-customer relationship. 

Most often, especially in ecommerce transactions, the first direct, physical interaction a brand has with its customers is when those customers open up their purchase.

Everything that comes after – both good and bad – is predicated on that first unfurling of packaging. Great custom packaging can set that exchange off on the right foot.

From there, if the impression is positive, your brand’s perceived value starts to rise with the consumer. Not only are they willing to pay for the product but also the experience your brand provides.

An excellent example of this comes from comparing two of our earlier brand examples – Tiffany & Co. and McDonald’s. 

Upon hearing those names, we bet you immediately figure we’re about to extoll the virtues of the former’s robin egg blue boxes and the latter’s Happy Meal. Well, that right there is already an indication of just how critical the right product packaging design can be.

Think about just how disparate those two brands are – one is luxury jewelry, and the other is fast food. Two completely different packages for two totally different segments. And yet they both manage to evoke equal amounts of joy and happiness in the individual who opens it. 

That is indeed why taking the time to carefully consider and curate your brand’s packaging matters. Not just for the impression it makes in unboxing videos but the impression it can create over time. 

Finally, that great initial impression and perceived value ultimately build into a consumer wanting to share that experience with others.

As we already touted when discussing reaching an audience, unboxers, are just itching to tell their friends and followers about the fabulous new thingamajig they bought or the life-altering encounter they had. And that’s regardless if they’re just regular consumers or full-time influencers.

Yes, they detail the bad experiences too. But that’s why it’s so vital to give your packaging the attention it deserves. 

The more time and effort you dedicate to getting it right, the more loyal and dedicated customer base you’re likely to build.

Really, Your Packaging Matters That Much

branded unboxing experience packaging

I’ll admit – I love getting a beautiful package waiting at my doorstep – but most of us still enjoy the vicarious thrill of watching someone else open a box and feel the mounting excitement as we see them tear off the layers to find out what’s inside. 

As we noted, it’s almost like Christmas morning. This thrill is part of what’s driving the explosion of unboxing videos. 

But people don’t want to share any old experience. A Dotcom Distribution study found that nearly 40% would share an image of an online order on social media if it came in a unique package.

With a branded packaging experience – you can create a memorable, shareable experience, so you stand out from the crowd and see your products turning up in those coveted unboxing videos.  

How to Master the Unboxing Experience

There are a number of ways to make your branded packaging experience stand out through clever box design. That being said, having a stand out package isn’t the same as providing a killer product unboxing experience.

You know that the presentation and packaging of your products counts. Slapping your merchandise in a plain, brown box isn’t going to cut it.

Here are some tips on getting on board the unboxing trend and leveraging this effective marketing tactic:

1. Engage All The Senses to Create a Memorable Experience

Engages Senses Smell Sight Sound

With online orders, you have fewer touchpoints to impress your customers than with a physical store. By contrast, in a physical store, most of your senses are involved in the shopping experience. 

In a physical store, your eyes see how the merchandise is displayed, your ears pick up the background music setting the mood, your nostrils are no doubt picking up various scents – perhaps perfume, or coffee, or something floral – and of course you’re able to physically touch all of the different textures in the store.

It’s difficult to replicate an in-store shopping experience in a box, but you still need to make an effort to engage your customers, especially for ecommerce packaging. So, try to appeal to their senses. 

Use textures to add a little glam to your custom packaging, or a piece of candy to keep it playful. And obviously you want your products to look good.  Make sure the contents of your box are thoughtfully arranged and not just casually tossed in there.

2. Personalize The Packaging Experience

Everyone likes to feel special and appreciated, so make a point of recognizing your customers.  

It can be as simple as using your customer’s name or acknowledging a prior order. If they’re a repeat customer, include a coupon offering discounts for future purchases.

Even before the physical package arrives, you can give your customers that personal touch.  Let them know the status of their order, like when it’s shipped or expected to be delivered. 

People appreciate communication and a simple email can help build up anticipation for the impending delivery.

3. Use Creative Branded Packaging

Creative Custom Packaging

No one’s going to be excited about watching someone open a boring, no-frills package. Try making it unique so that it will stick in people’s minds. 

Start with an interesting, branded packaging design on the shipping box. You can have your logo printed on the box or use more affordable options, such as logo stickers, branded packing tape, or a logo stamp.

From there, don’t be afraid to kick things up a notch. Cosmetics brand Glossier employs recycled pink bubble wrap and a bevy of stickers to wow their clients through unique cosmetic packaging design to reinforce their brand identity.

Loot Crate, a subscription box brand for gamers and pop culture aficionados, specifically tailor their contents to a fan’s exacting standards. 

Beer Cartel, an online craft beer store based in Australia, has a beer advent calendar that is fridge friendly and allows fans to sample their favorite brews throughout the month of December.

Now, we get that might not be everyone’s cup, err, pint of tea. It does reinforce that for your branded packaging to make an impact, it should be tailored to your target audience.

Remember, it’s about the experience. 

You want to build up excitement and have the person doing the unboxing take their time. Try to make it gift-like. Don’t forget about fillers for protection and added style, so long as this fits within your chosen box size. Use fillers, such as foam inserts, paper sleeves, or tissue paper, which can add an extra level of excitement.

You can even give your customers tips for the perfect product unboxing experience.

But don’t go overboard. You don’t want your customers stuck with undue waste.

4. Include Freebies for Gift-Like Product Unboxing

Your customers will be excited if they open their package and find some unexpected goodies to start their packaging experience. And they don’t have to be big.

Try including some of these freebie items: 

  • Product samples: Offer a discount on the full-size product, which can lead to future sales.
  • Logo stickers or magnets: Someone may stick it on their laptop, or your kid may slap one on their skateboard. It all equals free advertising.
  • A how-to book relevant to your product: If you’re selling plants, try including a slick booklet with growing tips.  

Including a small gift is an easy way to get some bang for your buck. Something as simple as a bookmark can go a long way. 

I recently ordered a book from an online bookstore, Wordery. Included was a bookmark with the company’s name and the hashtag #happyreading on the back.

Include Freebies Packaging Bookmark

Talk about clever advertising. I slipped the free bookmark into the book I’m reading and  now everytime I open the book, I catch a glimpse of the company’s logo – which keeps it front and center in my mind.  

5. Make It Easy-To-Open

Ever excitedly tear into your package to realize your long-awaited item is encased in heavy plastic that’s almost impossible to free, short of using the jaws of life? Yeah, me too. And let me tell you, the product was almost not worth the frustration of opening it. 

No one wants to watch a video of someone having difficulty opening their package.  

Potential customers will likely think twice before placing an order. Your items need protection, but make a point of using easy-to-open custom boxes

Mailer boxes, which are often used for subscription boxes, offer good protection, a branded design, and are easy to open. Carton boxes are typically used for most items you’re familiar with, including everything from toothpaste or cereal. More robust packaging often ships in corrugated boxes.

6. Get People To Share

Promote Social Media Shares

Some people may not think to post their unboxing pic or video, but maybe you can convince them with a little encouragement.  

Try using hashtags to promote social media sharing for your products and packaging, or put social media URLs on your box to get the conversation started. You could even try offering giveaways to build up hype for branded hashtags. 

Find Packaging Design Inspiration and Get Creative

First, we suggest returning to that YouTube search and watching some of the more popular unboxing videos. Take note of what works, what doesn’t, and what certain brands do to stand out.

Pay particular attention to the everyday consumer and their reactions as they go through the unboxing process (influencers too, but recognize they are often paid or rewarded for their enthusiasm).

Notice spots where certain types of packaging might trip them up during the experience. What colors and schemes shine through, and which ones might give off a less than a stellar vibe.

Beyond the videos, though, research great custom packaging in general. Inspiration for great packaging is everywhere. We touched on some prominent big-name companies early on but also looked at a few smaller brands too. 

Discover what excites you when you place an order and open the box up. 

Do any of your competitors invoke strong feelings with their customers? Good or bad? If so, what do they get right and get wrong? How can you improve your own standing or take advantage of where they might fall short?

These are all questions to ask and research as your work to develop your packaging (and, for that matter, your brand identity).

Here are a couple more ways to take some initiative in your packaging to get your products unboxed and have people take notice.

Promote Brand Awareness

Earlier, we highlighted how packaging could help you build your brand’s identity. But it takes plenty of leg work to craft that identity and get people to pay attention.

As we mentioned, to excite interest in your products, your packaging design needs to reflect your brand and values. Sure, your logo should be present, and custom colors represented in your packaging, but promoting your brand goes further than that.  

It also helps customers to know that there are real people behind the brand. So, include some information on how your products are developed, or share your story.  

Take, for instance, Annie’s. Annie's Brand Awareness StoriesOn the back of their mac and cheese boxes, they have a little blurb telling how, when they first started out, the founders hand-addressed every mail-ordered case and drove them to the local post office in their two-door Volkswagen. Stories like this make it easier to relate to a company.

Another way to pump up your brand recognition is to grab the attention of an influencer.  

Recall that influencers have large audiences. Some of the most sought after have a massive reach. An unboxing would get your product in front of a lot of eyes. You may get lucky, and an influencer discovers your product on their own, but more than likely, you’ll have to seek them out.  

Keep in mind, the influencer may not be familiar with your product, so include an explanation, some product photos, or a media kit. And a small gift for their time will no doubt be appreciated.

Do It Yourself

One final note that goes beyond your packaging is for your brand to create its own unboxing experience videos. That’s right, you can do it yourself.

In fact, a number of brands are choosing to capitalize on unboxing video’s popularity without waiting for enthusiastic consumers to create their own. 

Whether it’s through a partnership with the right influencer or producing something in-house, you can build entire campaigns around your brand’s packaging and unboxing experience.

Numerous big-name companies have already found great success in doing so. Names like Apple, McDonald’s, Nike, Samsung, and Walmart all have proven successful in crafting viral unboxing campaigns.

The best part is that you can tailor these videos specifically to your brand’s needs. 

Want to feature a new product? Unbox it. Highlight upcoming promotions? Center them around an unboxing. Explore how a product works or its features and benefits? Yep, you guessed it, make it an unboxing experience.

Ultimately, your custom boxes or packaging is just one step in the overall brand experience you create for your customers. If you’ve got great designs, an enjoyable experience, and want to show it all off, don’t wait for someone else to do it.

Unbox Away!

Unboxing videos are a great way to generate buzz about your products. You can even use customer’s unboxing videos for your own marketing. 

The great thing is that your packaging is merely the jumping-off point for what an unboxing video might lead to down the road. Brand recognition. Free exposure. Untapped audiences. Loyal customers. Viral videos. More sales.

That last one sounds particularly good, doesn’t it?

But you have to get noticed first. 

So take some time to consider the details of your custom packaging that will get people excited to share their unboxing experiences with the world.

Ready to think outside the box? Let's get started!

Get in touch with a custom packaging specialist now for a free consultation and instant price quote.

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