Few companies have managed to create an unboxing experience as popular and tailored to their customers’ needs as Birchbox. The beauty box subscription business has used creative packaging designs to establish a personal connection with subscribers and elevate the unboxing experience to become an integral part of the product.
Every month samples of skincare and makeup products are shipped in colourfully decorated boxes, which are fitted with tissues and ribbons. Stickers are often included in the package, allowing customers to personalise the box and show off their own creation in an unboxing video.
The unique product packaging not only makes each box a visual surprise, but also encourages customers to collect them all. Although the subscription box market is highly competitive, Birchbox differentiates itself by constantly offering a new unboxing experience and keeping the contents a secret until subscribers receive them. Birchbox even have a “spoiler” page on their website, highlighting the importance of surprising customers with exciting and unexpected products perfectly suited for unboxing.
Since NET-A-PORTER was founded in 2000, the online fashion retailer has placed great importance on offering stylish packaging that matches the high-end goods inside. Translating the experience of physically shopping in a designer boutique to ordering products online is difficult, but NET-A-PORTER has managed to give customers a luxury unboxing experience by using exclusive and quality packaging.
The discreet NET-A-PORTER black boxes, luxuriously tied with ribbon, have become the outlet’s signature packaging. Customers at NET-A-PORTER’s men’s site, MR PORTER, get similarly high-end packaging, but also receive a personalised label bearing their name, written in an elegant script.
These little touches go above and beyond other e-commerce sites, encouraging customers to share this exclusive experience with others. The 2015 Dotcom Distribution eCommerce Packaging Survey found that consumers are 1.5 times more likely to share images or video on social media if they received a gift-like box, as opposed to a traditional brown box. As the old adage goes, quality speaks for itself.
3. Warby Parker
Warby Parker retails glasses and sunglasses through its online shop and limited high street outlets, offering vintage-inspired eyewear at relatively low prices. The Home-Try-On service gives customers the chance to choose five frames online and try them on at home.
When this package arrives customers will see “Good things await you” printed in large text on the exterior, building excitement for the contents, with Warby Parker using the interior to encourage shoppers to get feedback from friends by using #WarbyHomeTryOn on social media. This can increase engagement with current customers and help generate conversations around the glasses online.
The company has found success with this approach, evidenced by the thousands of unboxing videos on YouTube where viewers give their opinions on the glasses they like the most and sharing in the product unboxing process. Warby Parker include an extra little touch in the form of a note saying “For every pair of glasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need”, letting the unboxer share their good deed.
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ popular quote “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works”, fully extends to packaging at the technology company. At first glance the packaging of any Apple device can look rather discreet and unassuming, but don’t underestimate this subtle design.
Each aspect of unboxing is meticulously planned by the design team at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, where a dedicated unboxing room is located. Hundreds upon hundreds of prototype boxes are opened in this room until just the right emotional response is evoked.
The quick and uncomplicated unboxing experience places emphasis on the product itself, while at the same time ensuring that the brand’s signature ease of use is highlighted. Apple further differentiates itself with an all-white packaging interior for many of its devices and by making the product the first thing unboxers see rather than cables or instructions.
Clearly this approach is working, with there already being more than five million YouTube results for “unboxing iPhone 7”. Bizarrely even a new Mac perfume and scented candle are on sale to emulate the freshly unboxed smell.
5. Loot Crate
Loot Crate is an online subscription service that ships an assortment of goodies to geeks and gamers every month. Each box has a specific theme that is kept a mystery until they are posted to subscribers, with past boxes offering horror, futuristic and dungeon themed items.
Unboxing Loot Crates has become extremely popular online thanks in part to the company inviting customers to upload unboxing videos and generating excitement over the surprise contents. “The box is more than just a vehicle for shipping goods for our creative teams at Loot Crate,” says David Voss, chief creative officer. “Every unboxing is an opportunity to surprise Looters [customers] through shareable artwork and transform the experience of unboxing from practical to magical.”
Many previous boxes gave “Tips for the perfect unboxing” printed inside the packaging, reminding customers to share an unboxing video at just the right time. The company also offers special discount codes that save both the new Looter and referrer money on future boxes, to persuade Looters to share an unboxing with the code in the description.