Meet The Marketing Channel With A 100% Open Rate: How To Capitalize On The Unboxing Experience
Today, 80% of consumers shop online. That figure is only set to increase, with 80 million more digital buyers in 2023 than in 2022. The potential is huge: brands now have access to a vast new pool of customers. Acquired at the click of a button.
But at such scale, how can you deliver a truly memorable customer experience—one that’s worth sharing? Customers may be shopping in their PJs, but expectations are higher than ever. With experiential marketing booming and social media a key brand discovery channel, a nice UX alone won’t cut it.
Enter the game-changer: unboxing. Keep reading to learn:
- Why unboxing could be your most powerful marketing channel yet
- What results your brand can expect from unboxing
- The secret to creating a memorable and shareable unboxing experience
- Eight proven and actionable unboxing ideas to inspire you
Let’s dive in.
From social media to C-suite: the evolution of unboxing
Before the early 2000s, “unboxing” was merely an action. Now, it’s an experience. Thanks to the compelling clout of vloggers and influencers, unboxing has made its way into the lexicon of every retail CEO—including yours.
So let’s make sure you’re up to speed.
You probably all know what the unboxing experience is: the moment a customer opens a package they’ve ordered from you. But what you need to focus on is how the unboxing experience makes customers feel.
Unboxing is all about creating a joyful, satisfying experience post-delivery. Cast your mind back to being a kid and the anticipation of opening your presents on Christmas Day; how it felt to pull the ribbon and unwrap the paper after days or weeks of suspense. That’s the emotional journey you’re aiming to replicate through your unboxing experience.
Why unboxing is fast overtaking other marketing channels
Packaging has a 100% open rate. In other words, unboxing has the potential to be your most effective marketing channel. Use it to tell your brand story, establish the quality of your product, and create long-term relationships with your customer.
Crucially, this touchpoint is a key opportunity to get distinctive. Your unboxing experience can help you stand head and shoulders above competitors, and leave a lasting impression.
Nail your unboxing, and you can expect BIG results
You’re guaranteed to:
- Increase customer satisfaction. We know from neuroscience that unboxing stimulates the part of the brain associated with reward-seeking—it can quite literally help you win customers hearts and minds.
- Drive customer loyalty. 41% of consumers say branded packaging encourages repeat purchases, and customer loyalty can increase by 40% if packaging is personalized. Once you’re lodged in a customer’s memory, they’re likely to return.
- Get plenty of free advertising. At the time of writing, #unboxing has 4.4 million posts on Instagram, 2.6 million videos on YouTube and 85.3 billion views on Tik Tok. Unboxing wouldn’t be here without social sharing, and that’s the end goal for your experience. So treat every customer like an influencer. The beauty of eCommerce is that anyone with a social media account has the power to advertise your brand.
How to create an unforgettable unboxing experience
So how do you nail your unboxing experience? It comes down to two things: make it memorable and make it shareable.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. You need to understand your customers’ wants and emotional needs, and consider what’s right for your brand.
For example, let’s consider Amazon’s “unboxing experience”. If a customer makes multiple orders, they’ll send out each product individually, rather than together in one parcel. Their packaging design is simple and no frills. But this is outweighed by speed. Amazon’s USP is its fast delivery, and they know this is what will impress customers. Essentially, they don’t need an unboxing experience. Knowing your parcel will arrive in less than a day is excitement enough.
Apple, on the other hand, has made unboxing an art. Its signature packaging is just as perfectly engineered as its products—minimalist aesthetic, clean lines and impeccable functionality. Each component fits together seamlessly, with satisfying touches like easy-peel screen films. Apple’s unboxing experience establishes the brand as synonymous with quality; it’s a big part of why there is always so much buzz around a new product.
Ultimately, unboxing isn’t about doing more—you don’t need bells and whistles. It’s about doing things thoughtfully. Remember, the goal is to build an emotional connection and establish brand distinctiveness. Your packaging is a crucial part of your brand world, and it should speak to your values, personality, purpose and vision. This is what will encourage social sharing, repeat purchases and long-term loyalty. Of course, you also need to keep resource, budget and environmental impact in check.
So here are eight ideas to inspire you—and inspire your customer to hit that ‘post’ button.
8 winning ideas for a memorable and shareable unboxing experience
1. Use the space inside the box.
The shipping box is the first thing your customer sees. But the real wow factor comes from thinking inside the box. It’s all about that (Instagrammable) big reveal, so how can you make use of this space to surprise and delight customers? Try coloured interiors or a welcome message on the inside lid for an unexpected touch that signals quality and care.
2. Get clever with packaging copy.
From the slogan to the smallprint, identify where you can establish your brand personality, especially in unlikely places (like the underside of a box or bottle). Put your customer front and center—think about what’s entertaining and helpful for them to read, rather than what you want to say. And make them feel good about choosing your brand.
3. Have fun with branded stickers.
Behavioral psychology plays a big role in unboxing. Even for grown adults, branded stickers are a great way to fire up those reward-seeking neural pathways, mimicking the excitement of unwrapping a present. They’re also a cost-effective solution to branding your packaging, without expensive printing or embossing on the box itself.
4. Get serious about sustainable packaging.
63% of consumers are less likely to buy from brands who don’t use sustainable packaging and 83% will pay more for it (‘2023 Buying Green Report’, Trivium Packaging).
So it’s essential to invest in sustainable packaging design: from materials, to size reduction, to ease of recyclability. You could also consider refillable or multi-purpose packaging, like collectible, color coordinated boxes. Back to messaging, make sure to communicate these initiatives and build trust with the customer.
5. Create a sensory experience.
When you visit a store, you have a multisensory experience. Light, sound and smell are often used in retail to set the mood, build a positive brand perception, and even increase the likelihood of purchase. There are plenty of other ways to make your unboxing experience multisensory. Since scent, memory and emotion are heavily intertwined, why not infuse packaging with a unique and evocative fragrance?
6. Keep things tidy with a formed tray.
A bumpy ride in the delivery truck is all it takes to ruin a beautiful curated package—potentially disastrous for the product, but also for that social post. To keep products safe and neatly presented, slot them into a formed tray (ideally suited for flat lay photography).
7. Personalize their packaging.
80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that provides a tailored experience.
Whether it’s for large orders, first-time buyers, or repeat purchases, show your appreciation for the customer with a thank you note or free gift. You could also print the customer’s name on the box (or even the product itself) to instill a sense of ownership.
8. Make returns hassle-free.
If you want to generate genuine customer loyalty, you need to be more than a pretty face. Provide them with a seamless experience across the board by designing returnable packaging with pre-printed shipping labels. Convenience goes a long way, making it more likely customers will give you a second chance or recommend your brand to friends in future.
The unboxing experience: a rare opportunity for connection in a digital world
These ideas for creating an engaging, memorable and shareable unboxing experience are proven to be successful. But if you really want your brand to leave a mark, you need to be truly original.
As you design your unboxing experience, consider every aspect of the user experience, from catchy copy and personal touches, right down to the packaging materials. And when it comes to incentivising social sharing, don’t forget to ask. Sometimes, all customers need is a nudge—include a branded hashtag or even a rewards scheme to watch that UGC roll in.
Remember, in a world of fleeting digital experiences, unboxing is your opportunity to give customers something tangible and lasting. So how will you make the most of it?