How to Create the Perfect Unboxing Experience – Choose the Right Packaging

With unboxing channels routinely topping YouTube charts, marketing professionals are switched on to the incredible potential an unboxing video can hold.

But an unboxing video isn’t just a product review – it’s an incredible opportunity to show off product packaging and build a brand, and this makes it an amazing opportunity for both contract packers and marketing companies.

In this feature we work through an example product to show what features can be capitalised on to make packaging work on the computer or phone screen as well as on the shelf.

But first – let’s clarify why we should care about unboxing videos in the first place.

What Is Unboxing?

An unboxing video is a video made by a vlogger, normally uploaded to YouTube, in which they unwrap and review on camera a product that they have just received. Unboxing videos are sometimes called “first impression” videos.

Common features of an unboxing video include:

  • Close ups of the packaging before being unwrapped
  • Close ups of products in packaging
  • Close ups of any leaflets or extras included in package
  • Reviews of the products

One in five consumers have watched an unboxing video

According to Google’s consumer survey, one in five consumers have watched an unboxing video. Between 2014 and 2015 ‘first impression videos’ (another name for unboxing) grew 68% across all sectors. And according to research, consumers want more of these videos. Data from a survey undertaken by Animoto found that 42% of consumers actually want more descriptive or demonstrative content, such as 360 views of a product. 360 views are a staple feature of unboxing videos, indicating that despite the fact that there are well over 60 million search results on YouTube for “unboxing”, consumers still want more.

So the demand is very much out there. But does this translate into sales?

The views have a direct impact on sales 

About 73% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after watching a YouTube video explaining a product. Again, the explanation is a staple feature of an unboxing video. A total of 62% of people who view unboxing videos do so during the product research stage of the buying cycle.

But this is just for mobile phones, right?

Phone unboxing videos are huge. Samsung has modelled the entirety of its latest marketing campaign around the concept “unbox your phone” in a nod to these videos, and Talk Talk has taken it one step further, filming an unboxing video of the new Samsung whilst swimming with sharks, in parody of the entire phenomenon.  

But electronics is not the only sector in which unboxing is popular. The second most popular YouTube channel worldwide is Ryan ToysReview, where toddler Ryan unboxes toys. This had more than 186.8 million views in the week ending 29th April 2017 and ranked two above Ed Sheeran.

Toys are absolutely massive when it comes to unboxing. Other growing sectors include beauty, fashion and food. Truth is, you can find unboxing videos for almost any product you can think of.

Why Should the Contract Packing Industry Care?

Marketers know that authentic unboxing videos can do wonders for a brand. That means not only doing the right work to get the product in front of influential vlogger’s cameras, but also ensuring the product and packaging are doing the right kind of work when they are featured.

Marketers have known for a long time that packaging is important, but now they have to think about the online “shareability” of this packaging – 4 in 10 customers are likely to share an image of a delivery on social media if it comes in unique packaging, and 52% are likely to make a repeat purchase from an online seller if they deliver in premium packaging.

That means they’ll be looking both for expertise in packaging design and also help to decide on the right materials and features, along with how this can be delivered in a cost-effective solution.

These are the exact services that many contract packers are uniquely positioned to offer.

As e-commerce companies become more aware of the impact of packaging as an entire experience they will start to seek out contract packers that can not only deliver quality, cost-effective packing, but can help advise on building a brand through unboxing experiences.

What Works – Packaging Features to Make Your Product Perfect for Unboxing

Points to remember:

  • Amateur video equipment will be filming your product
    • No fancy lighting or post-production touch ups. That means your packaging has to look good under the worst lighting and technology. Choose your colour palette very carefully. If you need to keep costs down, going for a minimalist design avoids packaging looking cheap.
  • The little extras and small surprises make all the difference
    • Packaging inserts are solid gold when it comes to the best unboxing experiences. Decorative inner packaging helps too.
  • Vloggers love showing every angle of the box – make sure you use every surface to its full potential
    • Unlike on the shelf, the sides and bottom of the box will get airtime – no reason not to put some little surprises on there too!

To demonstrate what can work, we’ll use a product that we worked on from brand conception right up to final product, the Percy Nobleman Beard Grooming Kit:

The Front of the Box

The first shot of an unboxing video is almost always a close up of the front of the box. This is an amazing opportunity – a free, extended close up of the product – the kind of airtime that advertisers would pay huge amounts of money for, were it on television. The principles of good front-of-box design for the shelf translate pretty well to an unboxing video. Basic principles should be adhered to, such as the following:

  • Keep it simple and uncluttered, don’t overwhelm the consumer with information
  • Make sure you properly communicate what your product is. Don’t make it look like something else
  • Symmetry is always favoured
  • Choose a colour palette that fits with your brand

The next step is to think about how much you want to show and how much you want to conceal, which ties in to the sense of anticipation that is all part of the unboxing viewing experience.

Making the box disappear

Phone companies have started to take on the unboxing experience as an integral part of their design aesthetic. The iPhone is a great example. Apple print a full shot of the front of the phone and the back of the phone on the respective sides of the box.

This has the effect of making the box fade away – they build anticipation, minimising the sense of distance between you and the product – creating the impression that you barely have to open the box. That, in and of itself, is a great unboxing experience.

You don’t always have to print the product on the front though. Another option is using a window to show the products inside. This works well for new companies that can’t rely so much on their brand recognition. It also helps build trust between you and the consumer – what they see is literally what they will get.

Building a sense of mystery

The alternative is to build the allure of the product by showing very little of it. The luxurious nature of the packaging should make the consumer feel like there is something inside that they need to know about. This option means the packaging becomes much more visible (as opposed to the iPhone packaging, where the trick is to make it disappear). Gift style packaging, or transforming the look of your package so that it imitates something much more expensive, is the way to go.

So the Trunk Club, in tune with its brand, has made its box actually look like a trunk.

Our Example:

Percy Nobleman wanted to show off a little of its product because it had spent time designing great looking labels. The products themselves showed a major part of the logo – the Percy Nobleman cameo-style illustration, so by showing the products it also showed the main logo without having to take up room on the relatively small box.

To do this, it went for a plastic window at the front which naturally gave room for a header above where the company could place the main logo and product title. The window also created a natural footer where was simply listed the products available in the kit – a very simple, clean design which immediately communicated the brand.

The Back of the Box

Try to use the space and copy on the back of your box well. More and more brands are understanding that a distinctive tone of voice is memorable and builds a sense of relationship between the consumer and your brand. If you have to put certain information on the back to meet regulations or laws, think about creative ways in which you can do this.

Most vloggers will show a close up of text on the back of the box and will describe it or read it out if it is noteworthy.

Our Example:

Percy Nobleman took the opportunity to brand build on the back of the box rather than just list ingredients. The company included step-by-step instructions for a “grooming routine” to further communicate that this is a brand that really cares about the health and quality of a man’s beard. This also gave them the opportunity to include all USPs about the product without having to put it in a staid product description that might be ignored by the consumer.

Since it’s presented as a step-by-step grooming routine, it’s much more likely to get a mention during an unboxing video and to receive some airtime. A familiar product description that simply cites ingredients is much more likely to be brushed over it by a vlogger.

Sides of the box

A staple of the unboxing video is showing the box from every side – the sides of the box are just more space with which to communicate your brand and get your customer hooked, so don’t leave them blank! Innocent smoothies – which is well known for its clever on-product copy, does some really clever things with the hidden surfaces of packaging. This copy at the bottom of this carton does a lot to tell the consumer what they are all about:

Get a vlogger to notice that during an unboxing video and they’ll do the hard work for you.

Our Example:

The sides were also used to get extra exposure for the Percy Nobleman coat of arms logo, reinforcing the brand. The opening side has a little “about us” information to give some history and context to the company.

Ease of opening

This comes down to the type of box and closure used. There’s nothing worse than an unboxing video that features a reviewer who simply cannot get the box open – it undermines the sense that this is premium packaging and interrupts the entire packaging experience. So, at the very minimum you should be looking at a standard tuck end or a reverse tuck end. Here are some examples:

This is better than a full overlap seal end, which can be clumsy to open. If you choose this closing mechanism you need to think about inner packaging. Once the box has been opened, how do you want the consumer to get the products out? Some kind of sliding tray or foam in which the product  sits are the best options for unboxing videos – then the product can sit in the inner packaging on screen, rather than in the vloggers hands or on a surface, which can look clumsy.

If you want your box to open like a hamper, a five panel folder box or a roll end tray with locking cover are great options.

Choosing these options means a vlogger can easily showcase the product or products whilst they are still in the packaging.

Our Example:

Percy Nobleman went for a familiar tuck end closure that can be easily lifted open. It also used an inner tray so the products could be easily slid out of the box.

Inner Packaging

Inner packaging is a good opportunity to add some extra luxury. It also needs to be designed so that the products stay in place and look good when first opened up. You can use things like coloured straw to add an extra touch of luxury. The inner packaging is also instrumental in holding the products in place. Make good use of folds and flaps to help keep products presentable as they are unveiled.

Our Example:

The Little Extras

These are the things that unboxers really like! Adding in personalised notes or well-crafted extras really enhances the unpacking experience. It makes the customer feel like you actually care about them and makes them feel like they’ve got an unexpected freebie. These extras always get a mention on unboxing videos. If you are serious about using Youtube reviews as a genuine marketing channel, spending time developing a little extra that is really desirable and unique is worth it. If you can get a consumer to want to buy your product because of the secret gift revealed by an unboxer then you’re getting the most out of these videos.

GameKlip, a company that makes clips to attach a games console controller to your phone simply added a pack of sweets in every package – and customers started talking about it all over social media and forums. Just look at how well they were received by a vlogger:

Our Example:

Percy Nobleman included a comic strip in its gift set, which told the story of its character Percy going through his morning grooming routine. The firm also used this as an opportunity to point customers to its website – marrying offline and online marketing channels.