The unboxing experience as part of brand communication
Brand communication includes the packaging. More and more companies are aware of this and are focusing on the packaging in addition to their advertising through traditional and social media. The packaging gives the consumer an experience of the brand at the point of sale, so that they decide within a fraction of a second whether to buy a product or not. This is the first moment when the brand promise can be delivered. The packaging design embodies the identity of the brand so that the customer can experience it with all their senses.
E-commerce is somewhat different, as it does not allow us to touch or smell the product. We base our decision entirely on the price, description, images and reviews. As a result, the brand experience – our first physical contact with the brand – is postponed. In fact, we don't really experience the brand until we receive the package in the post. It's at this point, before we actually use it, that we either trust the product or not. This is precisely the moment which a company should use by ensuring that their shipping packaging is a true reflection of the brand.
Quite often, however, the long-awaited product arrives in a dull brown box with address labels, various barcodes and lots of sticky tape. And in many cases it is accompanied by numerous leaflets, impersonal delivery notes and automated invoices. The worst case scenario might even be a spoilt or damaged package. Obviously, this is not a good scenario for the first physical contact with an online purchase.
On the other hand, there are numerous unboxing videos on the internet to remind us how much pleasure this process can give. Anyone who remembers their childhood knows that a packaged gift can trigger quite a few positive emotions. There's nothing more exciting than unwrapping something, and good shipping packaging should be like a warm welcome to the customer.
In her book “Packaging is Seduction”, the Austrian market researcher Helene Karmasin even speaks of the “sensual” act of unboxing. Layer by layer, we embark on a voyage of discovery until we finally reach the product – in a way, comparable to the erotic pleasure of undressing. However, she says, only very few online retailers have so far really understood the value of shipping packaging.
If a company succeeds in adding the right emotional touch to the unboxing experience, it will improve not only the brand experience, but also customer loyalty, which increases the likelihood of further business from that customer. If the shipping packaging is attractive, it gives the customer a greater feeling of being valued. When products are packaged in an appealing manner, it reduces the rate of returns, and online ratings can also be positively influenced by a pleasant unboxing experience.