If you spend enough time on the internet, one thing may stand out to you above the rest - unboxing videos. This indulgent phenomenon has exploded on sites like YouTube, filling people's screens with product reviews. Influencers from all over the globe have been trying their hand at unboxing videos, with monumental viewer results.
So, what is so inviting about unboxing videos?
Is it the product itself? The smooth voice of the narrator? No, it is the notion of opening luxurious packaging. The #unboxing boom has shone a light on the power of high-quality packaging, as the user's experience of a product now starts before they open it. This trend is showing no signs of slowing down so neither should the new, exciting ways products can be packaged.
What are unboxing videos?
Put simply, an unboxing video is exactly what it says on the tin. Usually filmed from the viewer's point of view, it is presented as if the person watching the video is unboxing the product for themselves. The narrator's hands are their hands.
The influencer opens the packaging slowly and deliberately. They comment on the quality of the materials, the ease of use and the fun messages dotted throughout. The narrator turns a product from a fantasy in an advertisement to a reality, by taking the viewer on a journey through the senses. The cardboard packaging feels strong and smells faintly of wood, the plastic exterior is smooth and shiny, the protective wrapping pops between their fingers.
Unboxing videos do not have to showcase a "new" product, instead, they allow the viewer to open the product vicariously through them. The setting is commonly informal, like a bedroom or living room, so the product is showcased in a tangible, attainable nature. Like a trailer to a cinematic masterpiece, the luxurious packaging hints at the quality and worth of the product being unboxed.
Why are unboxing videos so popular?
Most people have experienced the process of receiving a package. Firstly, you wait for the box to arrive, tentatively counting down the days, excitement building. Then when it does, you get to experience the best part - opening the product. Like Christmas' come early, the act of opening a new item instils in humans an insatiable joy. Not dissimilar to the excitement when you are sat in the cinema, waiting for a much-anticipated film to start, we revel in the excitement of owning a "new thing".
Unboxing videos are popular because they immortalise a product in its most desirable stage. Rather than just opening a product for a few minutes, these videos extend the process for up to an hour. And when the video is done? Viewers can find another one.
Unboxing videos are a form of retail therapy, but cheaper, more accessible and from the comfort of someone's own home. Once the product has been unboxed, the spell is broken. It is the tangible action of opening packaging where the real magic happens, fueling our innate desire to hoard without the house full of forgotten purchases.
Product Packaging & Social Media
Social media has become a powerhouse of product packaging. As an extension of the purchased item, it is a direct reference to the monetary worth and deluxe craftsmanship of the product. When the packaging is visually stimulating or aesthetically pleasing, it will commonly feature in well-placed Instagram shots, alongside other complementary objects. As an integral aspect of unboxing videos, the packaging bridges the gap between the buyer and the seller, making the purchase more personal.
Thanks to social media, packaging has demanded an identity of its own. Though initially these posts were sponsored or gifted by the brand, they have become a staple of many Instagram grids. When broken down, the most common posts can be categorised by three main ‘Instagram ready’ packaging traits:
Popular Colour Pallets:
Most recently, the colour of choice for a lot of influencer's has been Millennial Pink. Considered to be the "in" colour, many believe it to be inspired by iconic director Wes Anderson's use of pink in Grand Budapest Hotel or a variant of Apple's rose-gold iPhone. Popular amongst younger influencers, it is commonly described as peaceful and pure, with an air of retro-kitsch.
Used by the likes of Acne Studios and Glossier, present-day packaging incorporates this dusky pink, in the hopes of appearing on an influencer's Instagram page. For if they do, their scope will expand to potentially millions of users. Additionally, many brands are keeping their packaging simple and clean, to appeal to influencers who prefer clean pallets in their posts. This is evident in such brands as Gucci and Céline.
Product packaging is considered a form of marketing, starting with the exterior messages. As a vehicle for communication, many brands are using their packaging to print witty, insightful or playful messaging, ensuring that their customer opens the product with a positive mindset.
One of the most popular methods of communicative packaging is to announce the arrival of the product. Such witty typography includes "good things await you" or "you've been expecting me", innovated by brands like Warby Parker. This method is made for unboxing videos, setting the tone for offline content and therefore the portrayal of the product.
Packaging decorated with slogans and phrases don't just make an announcement, they can also present positive affirmations or tongue-in-cheek jokes - anything that will make the product stand out. This may reflect the brand's ethos or compliment the customer, making the packaging easily shareable on social media.
The Power of High-Quality Packaging: Case Studies
It is one thing to predict trends, it is another thing to see them in action. Below you will find an investigation into the brands who are using packaging to their advantage:
Swish Beverages is an American wine supplier that incorporates internet slang in their packaging, in the hopes of appealing to their younger consumers. By printing phrases like "stay basic", inspired by the insult turned satirical badge of honour commonly used by young women on the internet, they successfully target their audience.
Popular beauty brand Bare Minerals changed the game of foundation when they increased their shade range to suit more customers. They could have stopped there, but instead, they enhanced their packaging to feature the purchaser's name, adding another layer of personalisation to the product.
Health and wellbeing is a hot trend in the world of marketing, due to the recent explosion of press coverage and media posts on the subject. As such, brands like The Ordinary have capitalised on the consumer's need for organic products, by labelling their ingredients on the bottle and keeping their packaging clean.
As new trends surface and old trends die out, the world of packaging is in a constant state of fluctuation. One thing is for sure, the collaboration between social media/online content and product boxes will be prevalent for years to come. To stay ahead of the curve, brands need to embrace the value of quality and innovate new ways to package their products.