There’s something inexplicably fascinating about the unboxing video. It’s just a recording of someone opening the package of a trendy phone or popular clothes to document the process for their followers, but some of them rake in millions of viewers. It joins ASMR media (you know, those vloggers who whisper into their mic) and kinetic sand videos (or deconstructed craft time) as a part of an online voyeuristic movement, where people watch others unwrap things, make quiet noises, or mush neon powder in a way that’s bizarrely satisfying.
As a viewer, the unboxing video can help you see what the product looks like without any advertising magic. Pulled straight from the box as shipped by UPS, what you see is what you get. Sometimes, it’s a view of something you could never afford to experience on your own. For the business, the unboxing experience is the last opportunity to connect with their customer and deliver the final pieces of marketing to guarantee a return customer.
While some e-commerce companies do the bare minimum with their packaging (we’re looking at you, Amazon), others go above and beyond—delivering a branded packaging experience that’s thoughtful, fun, and unique. Here are three of the top unboxing experiences—all of them successful in their own way.
DollarShave Club has built an empire out of disrupting the world of men’s grooming products—particularly that of the razor. Every month, this manly subscription service delivers sharp new blades for its ergonomic handle, positing it as the superior, boutique alternative to the disposable razors with 87 blades for a closer shave.
Boasting their blades aren’t just good but “f***ing great”, Dollar Shave Club has created a frat-boy version of Mad Men, if Don Draper wasn’t an alcoholic misogynist. Delivered first in an iconic video (now viral, you can watch here), their brand follows through at every step of the customer experience, including the box. The package comes with nostalgic microcopy that hammers home the company’s unique identity with punchy humour — looking like it travelled through time from your grandfather’s time if you don’t look too closely at the message.
The skin developer has an aura of mystic surrounding their online presence. @robot manages their Twitter account, taking every opportunity to disparage its gross human followers. Back on their website, the same AI-driven superiority suffuses its copy, showing a disdainful robot helping its customers fight the good fight against greasy palm rests and touchscreens. Though they “can’t relate to the idea of getting … disgusting human oils all over” devices, the laptop and phone skins from dbrand offer a grime-resistant layer in all their tailor-made designs, so they know more than they’re letting on.
It should come as no surprise they bring their own unique flair to the unboxing experience. Their basic unboxing videos for their popular iPhone X and Nintendo Switch skins draws in plenty of viewers and posters alike. Each video shows off their sophisticated, precision-cut copy, but they also go the extra mile. When Twitter user @P_Fudge07 asked for a robot replacement part as a souvenir, they sent him a hand-drawn sketch of a robotic hand giving him the middle finger on a post-it note. (That’s some kind of souvenir.) Meanwhile, when Twitter user @xM-91x asked for a drawing of Dickbutt, they delivered it on another post-it note nestled inside the box for his iPhone skins.
Though it may be the second subscription box service on this list, it was one of the original subscription services to emerging before this industry became trendy. With some million YouTube bloggers sharing their videos online, it’s one of the winners of the unboxing experience. Birchbox is a monthly delivery of cosmetics and beauty product samples for men and women.
The content differs from month to month, so the unboxing is different each time as well. Past some initial wrapping paper (color-coordinated with the month’s theme), the products rest inside, sharing space with micro-copy detailing the theme, inspiring slogans, competitions and/or activities, as well as a list of the items included for the month. Part of its success lies in the surprise: subscribers don’t know what’s in each box until they open it. Another lies in the trendy, uplifting look of each box.
So what do these all have in common? Each company manages to recreate its original branded experience within each shipment, packaging an on-brand, funny, and/or personalized message that makes their customers take notice—and feel special.
Whether it’s with a sophisticated swearword over nostalgic marketing or a crude dickbutt, there’s no singular perfect path to nailing the unboxing experience. Many roads lead to the same destination, as long as they’re paved with competence and personalization!