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Secrets of unboxing videosSecrets of unboxing videos

Social selling of consumer products often includes shareable “unboxing video experiences” posted by influential critics and fans. Their production values ​​vary widely, but the secret isn’t just in the video. The key is in the star of the show: the box itself.

By John Parsons

In 2011, Google popularized a concept dubbed the « Zero Moment of Truth« or ZMOT. It is the consumer’s research and discovery experience, primarily on the web, by learning a product before they first discover it, often on a store shelf.Procter & Gamble’s “First Moment of Truth”.

ZMOT is at the heart of any social sale. Of course, a brand’s web presence for a particular product should start with basic, easy-to-find feature descriptions, comparisons, pricing, use cases, and how-to tips or how-tos. But it can’t stop there. It should also include product reviews, ratings and other media designed to inspire the consumer and capture their imagination. Then, to complete the process, all this information must be easily shared on social networks. No matter how good your web promotional material is, there is nothing more powerful than sharing it with trusted friends.

Use the right medium

More and more, the preferred medium for this type of social influence is video. For consumer products, these videos feature footage of a shopper holding, speaking, and actually using the product. These can be elaborate commercials (think Super Bowl commercials) or strictly amateur productions.

The latter is usually an impromptu – or designed to look like – footage captured on smartphones and shared on social media. Often times, they’re produced by popular critics and influencers, who may or may not be remunerated by the brands they promote. Their socially shared video creates an emotional affinity – an « ah-ha » moment – that hopefully drives product purchases.

The unboxing experience

However, not all social selling videos are about the product itself. An increasing percentage of shareable ZMOT videos feature the box or packaging the product is delivered in. Specifically, the video shows the reviewer or influencer sharing their experience from the perspective of someone opening the product for the first time. The “hook” of social selling is conveying the excitement of a first-time buyer when they open the box they just bought.

There is a lot of, many such videos on YouTube today, created by (probably) unpaid enthusiasts, especially for posts like consumer electronics, beauty products, and pop culture memorabilia. (The last example comes with a language warning.)

Unboxing videos generally break the « shorter is better » rule for marketing videos because they are designed to appeal to an already loyal fan base. They can also vary in terms of production quality, from simple first-person vlogs to reality shows like Arun Maini’s. MrWhoseTheBoss channel. (His exaggerated video, Unboxing the $ 200,000 smartphone, contains many great examples of unboxing video technique, including point-of-view shots of every step of the way.)

Even the seemingly mundane aspects of the product packaging (the protective plastic) can be filmed in a way that enhances the memorable “you are there” experience with enhanced sound. (Extract from the unboxing of Arun Maini’s $ 200,000 smartphone.)

The revenue model varies for videos of this type. On YouTube, the poster will often add links to purchase the item, as well as the usual subscription buttons and sponsor links.

While the popularity of unboxing videos is undeniable, marketers should know the rules before they get into the fray.

  • Production values ​​are critical. It takes real skill to make an unboxing video simple and easy to watch, especially when the story pushes the video execution time beyond the usual length of marketing videos.
  • Look for authenticity, not fancy camera work. Production values ​​matter, but keep in mind that the vast majority of good unboxing videos are produced with simple single-camera shots. Typically, this means alternating narrator footage and point-of-view shots of the box being opened.
  • The narration must simulate the senses. By its very nature, physical packaging involves more sense than sight and hearing, the only two that today’s video medium can handle. Thus, storytelling and visuals must also convey, even in a subliminal way, the touch experience – and even olfactory experience, if there is one – of a well-designed box.
  • Social sharing is the goal. An unboxing video is not an elaborate tutorial or how-to. To entice viewers to share it with their subscribers and friends, the video must evoke the feelings to receive a holiday or birthday gift, or at least the opening of an exciting new purchase. Communicating these feelings is the essence of social selling.

The real star of the show

An unboxing video can follow all the rules and fail as a social selling tool if the product box is just a regular box. Even the most die-hard fan of a particular product is unlikely to end up, let alone share, a video of an uninspiring packaging design. But too few marketers fully appreciate what makes consumer product packaging appealing, both on store shelves and in video.

Product packaging is the most complex branch of printed graphic communication. It should be convenient, both for shipping and in-store display, and provide basic information (ingredients, parts, size, price, barcodes, safety information, the list is almost endless). On top of that, a package should also grab a buyer’s attention, given that the time spent making the decision to remove it from the shelf is only around 2.6 seconds. No pressure.

Other attributes of a product box communicate value: to the shopper in the store, to the customer who receives it in the mail, and most importantly to the person who opens it for the first time. Its visual layout, use of color and typography are also essential, although subliminal ways of increasing its perceived value. (In 2003, a study from the University of Alabama illustrated the powerful role of packaging in communicating brand meaning and strengthening the consumer-brand relationship.)

Even the weight and weight of the cardboard used for the box, along with its texture and special printing and finishing effects, all send a subliminal message, which cannot literally be conveyed in a video but needs to be described well.

Common printing and finishing techniques, such as texture or raised metal embossing, can be filmed in a way that evokes the tactile experience of a package. (As of the May 2021 ASMR GlossyBox unboxing.)

The outer box is just the start. Many consumer products (notably Apple and Samsung smartphones) take special care in placing the individual components in their own distinctive packaging in the main box, so that each new part becomes its own memorable step in the experience. In other words, when all aspects of the packaging are designed to be an enjoyable discovery process, then this process is ideally suited to be shared with others.

The big picture

The principles of social selling are not new. People are telling their friends and family about the great new stuff they’ve bought for as long as we buy and sell great new stuff. The difference now is that we can amplify these stories through social media. And, because moving pictures speak louder than words, the best way to share our joy of opening a new, well-designed product box is through video which can be shared freely with online connections.

About the Author

John Parsons is a Seattle-based business and technology writer and co-author of IntuIdeas Video Marketing Guide (https://intuideas.com/video-marketing-resources).

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