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Boxing for the unboxing experience

Woman begins to open a box holding her new tablet device.

Packaging, and how it is opened, has stepped onto the Internet stage. Take the videos posted by a YouTube user who meticulously unwraps, or "unboxes," a series of toys. The channel's videos have racked up 2.5 billion views. Across the web, video channels and whole websites have popped up to showcase the unboxing of products – from the newest electronics to food to sneakers.

This growing trend points to one thing: Customers are focusing as much as ever on the experience of receiving a product. That includes its packaging, and how it is wrapped, boxed and shipped.

For small business owners, the trend and the millions or billions of views prompt a few clear questions, including: How do I get involved?

Keep your audience in mind

When it comes to packaging your product with a mind toward unboxing videos, part of the process is understanding who your audience is and what they are expecting. Are they expecting sleek technology or colorful toys? Not only should your packaging reflect your product and your brand, but also it should mirror their expectations.

Tim Schofield, who produces unboxing videos for Your Tech Simplified, makes it clear that for the tech audience, simplicity is key. "When I open a box I like to see as minimal packaging as possible while keeping the product safe and secure," he says. "Extra packaging feels like a waste to me."

The packaging is the first impression a consumer gets of your brand, even in an unboxing video. And that, Schofield says, "plays an important roll in the user experience of the overall product."

Toys and kids products live in a different universe. "Kids are watching these videos, and they are visual," says Marissa DiBartolo, senior editor at The Toy Insider, a website that reviews toys and more. "The brighter, the bigger, the better!"

DiBartolo notes that unboxing videos for kids can be the equivalent of Amazon.com reviews for adults. "The longer kids are watching a video, the more they will learn about your product, so try to come up with ways to make the video last for a few minutes." She suggests that, unlike the tech products, businesses over-brand their packages to make sure that videos last longer and viewers stay engaged.

"We love to see creativity and lots of color," she says, and, "Adding confetti and tinsel will make a great visual impression, and it will require the YouTubers to dig through the box just a little bit longer. You could even include props and fun things related to your brand, like balloons and streamers to create a customized set."

"For kids watching these videos, every unboxing feels like Christmas morning," she says.

Mixing entertainment and information

"The whole unboxing phenomenon is really interesting," says Marty Brochstein, SVP at the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association, or LIMA. "You almost have to separate it into two areas: the entertainment value and the information." Each of which will help get your product noticed.

The trend doesn't rely on traditional media advertising, where brands can find an audience through, for example, buying commercial time on a television show that has a similar audience. Instead, says Brochstein, the it relies on the Internet, which democratizes whether your product gets seen. Even though you have the right information in your video, entertaining videos are more likely to be watched (and often rewatched).

Since the barrier to get a brand's products on the web is very low, says Brochstein, the democratization can be good for small businesses. The challenge is getting someone to notice. He suggests a proactive approach: "The baseline is you have to make videos of your own. Make material that spotlights what's special about what you do and what's special about your product. You have to show the delight you can expect the consumer to have when they unbox your product."

When it comes to videos made by third parties, DiBartolo agrees, noting that the reviewers are often real kids and their families, and they are taking the time to review and unbox products that they love. Viewers get the information, but are also entertained by the experience. "It's fun for kids to watch other kids get toys and see what they really think about it."

Partnering for a better package

Quint Marini, who oversees a team of UPS Packaging engineers in Addison, Ill., has a few ideas about where to start with new packaging. "Our goal is to evaluate and test package designs that can move through any mode of transportation, through any environment," he says. A 23-year veteran of UPS, Marini, and his team, works with everyone from his fellow engineers to customers on initial designs, testing, redesigns and building the final packages.

There are a lot of factors to consider, he says, including the timeline to create the packaging, the product's characteristics and dimensions, the size and scalability of the order, and environmental concerns.

For more details on creating custom packaging for your products, check out UPS's Package Engineering solutions.

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