Unboxing videos boom in holiday season; why the psychology matters

Unboxing videos

Unboxing videos from vloggers Eleventh Gorgeous

Unboxing videos, where products are unwrapped and described in an informative and entertaining format, prove most influential in the run up to the holiday season, according to packaging supplier Rajapack.

Views from October through December run at 1.5x that of other quarters, totaling 34% of the year, which lends even more credence to the argument for seasonal packaging and ensuring perfection in every product shipped out.

The craze began back in 2006, when the new Nokia E61 was unveiled on camera as it was pried out of its packaging. The trend only picked up from there, with marketers and internet fame seekers alike jumping at the chance to reveal products fresh from the box, be it electronics through to toys and of course, luxury, fashion and beauty.

In 2015 alone, over 6.5 years’ worth of unboxing videos were uploaded to YouTube. Searching the video hub today yields over 53 million search results, at time of writing.

The better-produced videos are also achieving massive viewership. FunToyzCollector sits at the number three YouTube position with over 11.6 billion views, for instance. And the unboxing hobby can prove quite lucrative: another giant in the toy unboxing space, DC Toys Collector, raked in $4.9 million in 2014.

For brands, the profit component is much greater as each video contains the possibility to convert a viewer into a customer. Psychologist Diana Parkinson believes: “It’s the best, and cheapest form of advertising ever. These videos make us drool and desire what may well be unattainable.”

But why does all of this excite the viewer when they’ve got nothing to personally unwrap? According to Rajapack, our brains contain Anticipation Circuits that fire up when we see something building to a boil. Combined with a Mirror Neuron System that sets this in motion for other’s anticipation, we feel personally stimulated watching these videos. We go through the experience with the person on camera. “[It’s] totally voyeuristic, there is no material reward, only transitory visual reward,” Parkinson said.

The key to creating a coveted product and a successful unboxing video turns out to be as much about the box itself as its interior offerings. Author Martin Lindstrom of the New York Times bestseller, Buyology: How everything we believe about why we buy is wrong, claims this as truth for all buying experiences.

In building appropriate anticipation, the brand needs to factor in the packaging’s aesthetics, its sounds and even its tactile quality; all of which will be recounted to the viewer. This is something Apple does particularly well on all fronts, as featured in the above video example which has over seven million views.

This proves even more crucial in the luxury market where the consumer buys an experience with a product, whether opening it privately or with millions across the web.

Net-a-Porter's #thenetset still content back in 2013

Net-a-Porter’s #thenetset still content back in 2013

Fashion brands have long jumped on this bandwagon, of course, not only thinking about ensuring they’re offering high quality packaging but also how to benefit from the unboxing phenomenon directly. Net-a-Porter for instance leveraged its consumer champions by encouraging them to use the hashtag #thenetset on social media back in 2013, long before that same name became the company’s social commerce channel. While this was primarily pushed over Twitter and Instagram, the content at the time noted growing use of YouTube for unboxing by their fans.

The strongest effect of the psychology of unboxing and product videos, stands in the authenticity of these non-branded vloggers – in the notion of user generated content. According to Google findings in partnership with TNS and Ogilvy, there are particularly strong yields in the beauty market, where 66% of recent purchasers noted YouTube as a product visualisation aid pre-purchase.

In a fragmented digital marketplace, brand ambassadors and social media influencers have become commonplace. Potential customers look to these figureheads for insight. Another Google study revealed that 62% of people tuning into these videos do so once they’ve begun researching a particular product. As an animated reel of product reviews, these unscripted clips have become the modern day version of word of mouth.