When shopping for a new product, one of the first actions you probably take is reading product reviews. But if you want a more in-depth look at a product, the next type of content you’ll likely come across is unboxing videos. As such, the unboxing experience matters.
Research backs this up: 42.2% of customers find reviews to be helpful types of influencer content, with 13% looking to unboxing videos versus just 6.1% being influenced by images or videos of a product.
Marketers want to produce more unboxing content, with 42% hiring creators to make these videos.
What is an unboxing experience?
An unboxing experience is when customers open a package and take out the items inside. Its purpose is to give additional value to your customer, as well as to your business, through the creation of a memorable and shareable experience.
Why is the unboxing experience important?
Tells your brand story
In ecommerce, merchants have fewer touchpoints to impress and wow customers versus physical retail. It’s important to use every touchpoint to create a branded experience that sets you apart from competitors and creates a memorable experience for your customers.
It’s also not just the product itself that speaks for your brand: the brand packaging, packaging design, and packing materials also help to tell your brand story.
For example, suppose your brand focuses on sustainability efforts. In that case, the packaging can often make or break the customer experience. Eighty-one percent of customers in the UK prefer eco-friendly packaging materials, and 80% believe online shipments contain excess packaging.
Drives customer loyalty
A big part of building a long-term, sustainable brand is bringing customers back time and time again. Customer experiences across the purchasing journey all impact customer loyalty. For organizations in 2021, one of the main outcomes of evolving the CX strategy was increased brand loyalty, at 46.3%.
A positive unboxing experience is one part of the customer journey that you can easily control and improve upon. It is a good idea to provide great unboxing experiences from the start.
For example, when the first iPhone was released, Steve Jobs said Apple protected it with over 200 patents—including the box it came in. Today, the “first open” of an iPhone box is a hugely anticipated and much-loved part of the experience, thanks to its “slow slide.”
Encourages social media shares
Sixty-two percent of marketers say their success with videos is determined by the engagement their videos get, including shares on social channels—and engagement is one of the great outcomes of a good unboxing video.
For example, entire popular YouTube channels are dedicated to unboxing videos, including Unbox Therapy (18.2 million subscribers and 4.3 billion views) and UrAverageConsumer (3.2 million subscribers and 4.79 million views).
YouTube doesn’t publicly show the number of shares an individual video gets, but it would be easy to say these channels get plenty of shares due to their growth.
6 best unboxing experiences and ideas
Now that you’ve got an idea of the importance of unboxing videos in your marketing strategy, let’s look at some examples of ways to help improve their effectiveness for your ecommerce brand.
1. Make it personal with handwritten notes
One of the best ways to improve your products’ unboxing experience is to include handwritten notes with purchase. While this method might not scale as well if your business grows fast, it’s a great way to build a personal relationship with your customers from the beginning.
This method is quite common among Etsy small business sellers (as many, if not most, stores offer handmade goods). For example, in the unboxing video below (filmed by the customer), you can see the seller has included a handwritten, personalized thank you note:
As you can see in the still above, it can be useful to pre-print a “thank you” card template, then add your handwritten note on the card to save some time. You’ll still make the customer feel appreciated no matter your chosen method.
2. Encourage customers to share their unboxing experiences on social media
One way to help grow your brand awareness is by encouraging your customers to share their unboxing experience on social media (e.g., YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok). You can encourage unboxing videos is by creating a public playlist of user-generated content (UGC), letting customers know they could be featured on your channel.
For example, High Peak Co. has a customer reviews playlist on TikTok (which can include unboxing videos):
This method of having a public UGC playlist has the double effect of adding social proof on top of growing brand awareness.
3. Add a discount coupon inside for the next purchase
Another way to improve the unboxing experience that’s a little more scalable than handwritten notes is by including a discount coupon for repeat purchases. Printing coupons on-demand is easy, so you can change the codes every month (or another specified period) to ensure they aren’t abused.
However, suppose you’re still worried about coupon code abuse (and don’t want to take on the work of continuously updating them). In that case, you could follow Stationary Pal’s footsteps:
In its product boxes, the brand doubles up the “thank you” note by encouraging the customer to join a membership program, which will give them points as a form of discount and cash for referrals.
4. Write a bio of the person who made the product
Another way of building up a personal relationship between your brand and your customers is adding a short bio about yourself (if you make the product) or the person who made it. The personal relationship you develop with your customers helps improve customer lifetime value (CLV).
One of the best-known examples of a brand doing this on a large scale is Lush. With every product, Lush includes a sticker with a cartoon version of the employee who handmade the product and their name.
Suppose you’re the only person in your business. In that case, you can either make a card that describes you and your business mission or, if you have multiple employees, you can create a sticker like Lush does and include it on the product packaging design instead of on the product itself.
5. Share a “where your product has been” journey
Another easily scalable way to improve your unboxing experience is by adding information about your product’s journey. This is a great way to add the element of transparency and is particularly effective for brands in the sustainability niche. It helps to show your brand values and adds to your product selling points.
For example, Let’s Go Eco is an eco-friendly subscription box service, and in each of its shipments the box includes a full leaflet about the brand founders and information about each product in the box:
While we would encourage supply chain transparency (our research shows 46% of customers look for transparency when shopping online), if you’re a dropshipping business or Amazon seller, for example, it might not be as easy.
In this case, instead of showing the shipping journey, you could also try including a story of how you came into business with this particular product (e.g., did you have a problem that needed solving?).
6. Brand every component of the packaging
One way to build up the overall prestige and perceived value of your product is to brand as much of the packaging as possible. Unique packaging makes your product stand out.
While custom packaging and product presentation can incur some investment upfront, the extra effort helps build up brand identity and trust and create an amazing first impression in the long run.
For example, Essentials Eco (which curates eco-friendly products in a subscription box) ships in a customized cardboard box, with loose products individually wrapped in branded tissue paper:
In the above video, Ashley (who runs the A Year of Boxes YouTube channel and website) says this about the branded boxes: “I love this. I think everything about this box is beautiful. The box itself, the product card, their marketing. Everything.”
Who could ask for a better unboxing experience than that?
What goes into a custom branded packaging experience
There can be many elements of a well-designed bespoke packaging and unboxing experience. You don’t have to include every single one. However, looking at each element can help you decide which ones deliver the best experience and the most value for your customers.
Strategically choosing just a few of these items below can go a long way in making customers feel happy about their purchase.
Let’s look at some elements you may want to consider:
- Box. The biggest element is the main shipping box. Traditionally, white and brown corrugated packaging options ruled the world, as they’re cheap, sturdy, and do the job. The shipping box represents the biggest opportunity to begin creating that wow experience, but premium packaging also comes at a high price, from design to shipping costs.
- Tissue paper. Wrapping your products in tissue paper adds an extra level of mystery and excitement for the unboxing experience. Some options to consider here are custom printed or colored tissue paper.
- Filler. Traditional filler types included styrofoam packing peanuts, foam inserts, air pillows, or bubble wrap. Other packing filler forms include crinkle paper (colored), or excelsior.
- Sticker. Stickers can be used in several ways. If you use tissue paper, a branded sticker can be used to seal the tissue paper together or it can also be used instead of custom (expensive) printing on your box as a branding option. Branded stickers are versatile and fairly inexpensive.
- Promotional material/business card. A business card doesn’t have to be a business card in the traditional sense of displaying your company information. Business cards represent a very inexpensive way of adding small branded promo pieces to your package. For example, you can add a card that gives the recipient a discount on their next order, or consider adding an additional one your customer can give to a friend for some extra word-of-mouth marketing. Maybe you want to consider using the space for a note or instructions. The possibilities are endless and inexpensive.
- Receipt. It’s pretty standard to include a receipt in your package, but there’s a lot of room for improvement on how the receipt is presented to the customer. Consider a high-end restaurant and how the bill is presented to you there. At some of the best restaurants the receipt is delivered at the right time, usually presented to the diner in an elegant way or inside a closed folder. Consider how and where to present the receipt to your customers.
- Custom note. It may be difficult to scale, but as a startup, a lot can be said for including a handwritten note to customers. It provides that personal touch that makes people aware there are real people behind the brand.
- Tape. Clear packaging tape right? These days you have some options of different colored tape that can complement your custom packing and brand colors.
- Gift. A small gift can be a great way to surprise and delight customers and increase the overall experience. Based on your average order size and margins, what small gifts can you add to enhance the experience of your branded unboxing experience.
- Free samples. Based on customer profiles, you may also want to consider including a sample that is likely to cross-sell the customer by introducing them to new products.
Create an amazing unboxing experience for your store
Creating a memorable experience that leaves your customers delighted with an experience they want to share can help give your brand the competitive edge it needs to get repeat business and attract new customers.
Take the next few days to reassess your packaging and unboxing process. Consider how much you’re currently spending, your average order size, and your profit margins. Assess what you can do to deliver a better experience to your customers that compels them to come back and share their experience.
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Unboxing experiences FAQ
How do I create a memorable unboxing experience?
- Add handwritten notes
- Encourage social media shares
- Add discount coupons
- Write a personal bio of the product maker
- Share your product’s journey (supply chain or from drawing board to real product)
- Brand every packaging component to make it eye-catching
What is unboxing on Instagram?
Unboxing on Instagram is about sharing a video or image carousel of the product being opened for the first time.
How does unboxing create a sense of suspense?
A great unboxing creates a sense of suspense by adding to the product’s perceived value with its quality packaging and the story behind the product.
How can I make my package smell nice?
To make a package smell nice, you can spray the box with a scented fragrance (though be sure to check for common allergens and provide an opt-out on the delivery page just in case). Alternatively, you can include a scented sachet that the customer can easily remove without opening when unboxing.