The Unboxing Phenomena: Packagings Gone Viral

Apple Packaging

Unboxing has become a wild phenomenon over the last years. But why do people love unboxings so much? And what does it have to do with packaging?


Over the past years, unboxing videos have become very popular, with view counts rolling on the millions. The phenomenon, which started spreading about 2006, is fairly straightforward, (quoting KnowYourMeme):

[quote style=”boxed”]“Unboxing refers to the practice of photographing or recording oneself while opening a new product out of its original packaging to showcase the contents as well as the recipient’s first impression of the product.”[/quote]

While simple, the process has gathered an enormous fanbase all over the mainstream web channels and social platforms, such as YouTube. In November 2014, Google noticed a rising interest of 57% over the year, with occasional peaks, (such as Christmas), and a 50% overall increase in uploads. (Small reminder: Google owns YouTube).

Some unboxing channels have reached the highest heights, to the point of competing in views with the biggest names. Even the corporate channels have jumped aboard: Infinity Ward themselves released an unboxing video of their MW2 Prestige Elition in 2009, (shown below), which gathered 4 million views and more than 20.000 comments.

Why is unboxing so widespread? According to Kotaku, (and Mike Rugnetta from Idea Channel), their popularity has a lot to do with fetishism. The shared public appreciation of a given product or brand provides the unboxing process a kind of mystical aura while simultaneously rewarding it with a higher degree of credibility.

Corporate showcases have become infamous for their deceptive and misleading advertising, and that’s one of the reasons why unboxings have spread so wildly: there’s no room for lies. What you see is what you get, period. Nothing more, nothing less.

Which, in turn, is strange, because unboxing videos do steal our feelings of anticipation and expectation, Kotaku follows. They are, as quoted from The Dublin Review:

[quote style=”boxed”]“Rituals without gods – unless, of course, the object itself is a god.”[/quote]

But don’t be fooled: rituals have always been profitable, and packaging designers and businesses are the key stakeholders in this whole conundrum.

Samsung is one of the brands to bet the hardest on unboxings. Coming back to Google’s article, two tips were given, (which the south-Korean brand fulfills masterfully): diversity and creativity.

It is to be expected: premium packaging, as in technology, is, of course, the most concerned field ─ and also the big winner. Maria Haggerty, CEO of Dotcom Distribution, put it like this:

[quote style=”boxed”]“The value of premium packaging extends far beyond the customer experience into residual marketing effects. The experience goes beyond the online order to when the client actually opens the beautifully wrapped package and shares that experience across social networks. That act of online and social recommendations drives loyalty from your customers and promotes brand awareness.”[/quote]

But that’s not to say that it’s the only field to be touched by unboxings. Unboxings can be done with almost any product, which forces all packagings to be designed accordingly. Remember: even toys are being unboxed, and with enormous success. There’s many reasons to keep unboxings in mind when planning your packagings.

Pick one, and do it.


Sponsored by Derprosa, leading brand in biaxially oriented polypropylene films for packaging.