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What Is the Unboxing Experience?

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From the minute an end-user opens an Apple product, they are immersed in an experience. Let’s use the iPad Pro as an example. The exterior of the packaging is minimalistic and sleek and features an image of the product to highlight how slim it is. The lid easily slides off so users can access the iPad without having to toggle through bundles of cords and instructions — all of which are neatly housed beneath the product itself.

The attention to detail on packaging solutions has made Apple one of the premiere leaders in what’s referred to as the unboxing experience. Here’s a closer look at the unboxing phenomenon, and the art and science behind what makes the packaging experience a success.

Understanding the Unboxing Experience

In its simplest terms, the unboxing experience is when the customer (an end-user or another business) removes the product and relevant components from the packaging solution. The experience begins when the customer first sees the exterior of the packaging and ends when the last component is removed from the interior. While the unboxing experience was once a differentiator, companies like Apple have pushed the envelope and turned it into a priority.

In an ideal world, the unboxing experience should create a positive impression from start to finish. After all, how you present your product is just as important as the quality of the product itself. In combination with the appropriate size and shape for packaging, products should be presented in an intuitive way that minimizes clutter and highlights what’s most important to the customer (all while preserving the safety of what’s stored inside).

But that’s just the start of what makes the unboxing experience a success. Adding personal touches and interactive elements can help further tell your brand story and get customers excited about your product — and more likely to purchase in the future. In fact, 40% of consumers are apt to make repeat purchases from online merchants with premium packaging.

Consider a company like Tiffany & Co., known for its signature robin blue box — what’s become known as “Tiffany’s blue” — with a white ribbon tied around it. While their products are touted for their elegance and sophistication, the packaging it comes in reflects this feeling of luxury as well. In this sense, the product box reflects the quality of the product, and also adds to the excitement of the experience as the customer unties the ribbon to see what’s inside. These are all elements that make the Tiffany brand stand out among competitors in the jewelry space.

While we’ve highlighted some B2C examples here, the same sentiment applies to the B2B world. Whether it’s an iPhone or a borescope testing device, a diamond necklace or a pneumatic hammer, the packaging remains your customers’ first interaction with your product and your brand.

Let’s say a customer receives a $5,000 piece of medical equipment in a corrugated box with ripped corners. How does this make them feel compared to a sleek, stylish molded case that has the brand emblazoned on the front?

Make the Unboxing Experience a High Priority

While unboxing videos have been around since the early 2000s, there is more emphasis than ever before on creating a great unboxing experience for customers. How the user feels when they open your product package has started to carry greater weight in terms of their perception of the value of the product and the reputation of your brand, and thus future purchase activities.

With custom packaging solutions, you can make your products visually impressive (inside and out), increase their perceived value, tell your brand story and drive customer loyalty. The key is to blend a creative use of different materials with enhanced branding and an eye-catching presentation. From the moment customers open the box, they will have a clear understanding of your brand identity and feel like they are part of a story you’re trying to tell — one that they will be eager to read again!

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