5 ways packaging designers can capitalize on the ‘unboxing’ trend

Adam Wormann

February 24, 2016

5 Min Read
5 ways packaging designers can capitalize on the ‘unboxing’ trend
Leverage the marketing boost of a consumer raving about your packaging.

If you're a professional involved in packaging, marketing or fulfillment and are not familiar with the trend of "unboxing," you need to be. The trend is growing, taking over the internet (a simple search of "unboxing" on YouTube yields over 30,000,000 results!), and presenting significant opportunities to increase sales and garner free publicity. Even if you don't understand the fascination with unboxing videos, the numbers and opportunity alone demand that we all pay attention.

What is unboxing?

The unboxing trend is simple. Users essentially film themselves opening the packaging of whatever they just bought, whether it be a new phone, Disney collectibles or a photographer's new gear. The user then posts the video online (usually to YouTube), and shares it on social media, blog posts or whatever other medium is available. It's really that simple. For example, this YouTube user's first unboxing video has more than 1.3 million views.

Simple? Yes. Effective? Greatly. More than 1 million people watched this video as the brand gained free publicity.

Was the packaging a part of that? Absolutely. It was routinely mentioned in the comments, and is likely one of the few things you'll remember about the video after two days. The packaging was an important component of the overall experience.

Unboxing goes beyond video, too. Users are posting pictures on blogs and social media channels like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. Beyond sharing and social media, the impact the experience has on these people as they open a new package can also be important, as it has been proven to have an effect on their future purchases.

Why is unboxing so important?

This is where the rubber meets the road. The experience of an individual unboxing their new purchase should be on the mind of every consumer product professional engaged with packaging in any way. Consider:

• Repeat Business: A recent survey from Dotcom Distribution found that 52% of consumers are likely to make repeat purchases from an online merchant that delivers premium packaging.

• Social Sharing of Your Brand: That same study also revealed that nearly 4 in 10 consumers would share an image of a delivery via social media if it came in a unique package.

• Free Promotion: If the unboxing experience is shared on social media, blogs or other online avenues, you get free promotion. This helps your brand exposure and website traffic, which are both exceedingly valuable. It's usually worth the minimal extra cost to create an experience more likely to be shared.

• Stand Apart: When a buyer gets multiple packages (think holiday shopping!) and sees one package come in a generic box while another has a "special" package, which do you think they'll remember?

• Create a Fond Memory of Your Product: Even though packaging is different from a product, a fond memory opening a package will be linked to the product. Start your customers off on the right foot!

Ideas for helping your package stand out

So how do you create a memorable experience? Make your package stand out. Do something that's a little out of the ordinary. Go the extra mile to create a great experience—not just a functional one.

Here are some tips and tricks to consider to help your next package make a positive impression:

1. Custom Printing: Show your brand. And by brand, we don't just mean your logo. Let your packaging represent who you are. Can you print a specific message on your box? Create a unique look? Be creative! Services like ThinkInk can do this for you with quick turnarounds and low minimums so you can test out multiple ideas.

2. Unique Shapes and Sizes: The sample video above stood out with a puzzle piece packaging design. It was memorable, and created an experience. Is there a shape that reflects your brand or product? See if you can work it in to your packaging.

3. Packing Material: What's unique that goes into the package itself? Are you using standard bubble wrap? As much fun as it is to pop, it doesn't add much to the unboxing experience. Think through more creative options. Companies like Digiwrap offer custom printed tissue paper for an extremely personalized, memorable touch. Be creative!

4. Going Green: On the other end of the spectrum, you can create a minimalist packaging experience in the interest of environmentalism. This can also bring positive attention, but for different reasons. Dell was creative with a great environmentally friendly packaging concept that received a lot of attention: bamboo packaging.

5. Surprise and Delight: Nothing says more to a customer like going beyond what is expected. A simple thank you note in the package from Jawbone was photographed and put on twitter by Erin Fors. @forsie: Dear every company that cares about its customer service: this is how you do it. Bravo, @Jawbone. That one tweet was retweeted 116 times. Putting in a little extra effort for a customer still pays big dividends.

Even if the trend starts to fade (which we don't anticipate any time soon), creating a positive customer experience has direct implications on a brand's future business and word of mouth. Those responsible for the packaging concept need to be thinking "outside of the box" and creating a memorable experience for their brands.


Adam Wormann is a marketing consultant, co-founder of Wormann Consulting LLC, and vp of online marketing at Ascent Digital Media. He has been working with clients in the packaging industry with a focus on marketing strategy and online marketing since 2011. Wormann’s unique background in analytics and human behavior has helped brands across the country expand their customer base, create deeper connections and increase their bottom line. 

Sign up for the Packaging Digest News & Insights newsletter.

You May Also Like