unboxing experience

One major social media trend of the last ten years is the unboxing video. While you might already be across this (it’s hard not to be when the ‘unboxing’ search term accounts for an average of 90,000 YouTube searches every month on the world’s second-largest search engine), what’s worthy of discussion is understanding exactly why unboxing is essential to every 21st-century business.

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In the past, the traditional commerce outlook was that it’s the product that’s most important. Yet things are changing, and in today’s age of the experience economy, even businesses with a goods-selling structure need to consider every aspect of their value proposition to understand down to the sales receipt as part of the value proposition. To help do just this, in this article, we are breaking down the strategic importance of story, how visual branding adds to the customer’s immersive journey, and, lastly, critical aspects for devising a process for creating a memorable unboxing experience.

1. Creating A Story-Based Customer Experience

To precisely understand what drives this aspect of the value proposition and why it’s so important, it’s necessary to delve into how human beings engage with stories on a psychological level. In the digital age, this focus on storytelling is tied to many people having no contact with a physical store and virtual shared experiences ‒ not only do we enjoy stories on an individual level, but we also love connecting through them as well, even if it’s just vicarious!

In discussing the rise of unboxing videos for Psychology Today, Dr. Pamela B. Rutledge alludes to the magic of Christmas morning that is tapped into on a psychological level and then explains the scientific process at play for why human beings love watching so much. Engagement is engineered through mechanisms of storytelling and:

“The appeal is due to an intersection of cognitive, affective, social and physiological elements; in other words, identification, imagination, feeling “in” the story, social connection, learning and a dash of dopamine.”

So, there is natural science at play for how businesses can fuse what we know about anticipation with the product delivery to cultivate a childlike sense of wonder in every customer.

2. The Importance Of Recognizable Branding

Another aspect of how people connect with a business is the visual element of branding. When we consider iconic, memorable brands, it’s likely that what comes to mind first is the colors, shapes, and aligned messaging that doubles down on the physical elements. Historically, Tiffany & Co. positioned themselves through their classic ‘Blue Box.’ In the 2000s, Apple took this up a notch again with their geometrically perfect white boxes and (unofficially trademark) ‘new product smell’’ In both these cases, these brands extend the buying experience into everything from the ribbon that ties the purchase to the cult silver foil etching of the company name on otherwise disposable packaging components. That has the effect of making even ephemeral moments feel tangible and works on a subconscious level to transition the act of opening an order from a simple purchase to an experience. More and more frequently, this can be another factor in how a prospective buyer can be converted to a customer.

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Beyond Brick-And-Mortar Retail in the 21st Century Experience Economy

As we’ve established, packaging has been fundamental for a long time; however, it’s the rise of digital and the decline of ‘the shopfront’ that’s really catalyzed the epoch of obsessive unboxing. With many businesses shuttering due to shrinking budgets or companies building themselves up from e-Commerce first, one of the leading questions that have been asked is how to emulate the personal touch of an in-store experience. Looking at the packaging ‒ the singular physical contact an e-Commerce company like luxury e-tailers Net-A-Porter have with their loyalists ‒ and tapping into the little details including tissue paper, labels, and correspondence style really helps with solidifying the emotional, experiential understanding of who the company is.

3. The Process Pillars Of Unboxing

Due to COVID-19, many businesses had no choice but to shift to e-Commerce overnight, yet the experience aspect is still a priority for customers regardless of a raging pandemic. The logical question then is how do businesses, whether they’re new or introducing an e-Commerce arm, successfully deliver both product and experience to stand out in the market?

 Assessing The Business Brand & Practical Steps For Communicating It.

For starters, a business needs to identify documents that packaging, supporting components, and communications make the brand recognizable. From here, they can devise processes that reinforce this in every single detail, from the sale order through to delivery.

Some key areas for every business to consider as part of this assessment are:

●    The visual components of the brand, including colors and fonts

●    Their values such as affordability, sustainability, effortlessness, and accessibility

●    Their overall business model and how they can incorporate this into their value offering such as personalized service, cut-price products, or aesthetically-driven details

From this audit, clear, informational brand points are captured, and ideas for how packaging can be conceptualized and chosen will emerge plus, it’s likely that specific non-negotiables for delivering on the overall business mission will be clarified, too.

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A final point to be mindful of when it comes to developing a process around the unboxing offering is that this is a resounding example of the medium being the message, and in the land of consumer trends, perception unchecked is reality. Not only does UPS data from 2013 show that almost 40% of consumers are more likely to share order in a “unique, branded or gift-like box” on social media, but people are making the decision on where to shop based on video content reviews and unboxings which is reflected in SEO keyword data, too.

An Infographic Resource To Get Started – ‘How to Create a Memorable Unboxing Experience

For any business with e-Commerce, it’s resounding that reviewing the unboxing from a buyer’s standpoint and updating the offering can be truly invaluable. For businesses to dive in further, the infographic resource below from logistics experts 2Flow is a great starting point. They developed this article and the graphic guide below to help businesses of all kinds to connect with their customers and push the limits of their e-Commerce strategy. If a business has any sort of physical product, revising and leveling up packaging as well as the unboxing experience is essential with this infographic here to use from audit to implementation, no matter the size of the operation. Happy planning, and here’s to making the customer experience even more meaningful.


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