Unboxing Customer Loyalty, One Beautiful Package at a Time

Friday, December 6, 2019

By Greg Zakowicz, commerce marketing analyst
4-minute read

In short:

  • In retail, the unboxing experience can drive sales and customer loyalty by upping customers’ perception of your brand, enticing them to try new products and more.
  • The most important task is ensuring your unboxing experience reflects your brand, from the appearance of the box itself to the extra trinkets, if any, that are included inside.
  • Consider examples of both legacy brands like Tiffany & Co. and millennial-era ones like Erin Condren when designing your brand’s unboxing experience.


Imagine receiving a package from your recent online order after an excruciating one-day wait, your excitement filling the air — finally, you’ll be able to try on that new sweater you’ve been dying to wear.

You grab the plain white plastic bag (known to retailers as a “poly mailer”), pull the open strip and take the sweater out of the clear plastic bag.

Meanwhile, your neighbor down the street receives their order of a similar sweater (which might cause for an awkward chance encounter). But her sweater arrives in a beautifully branded box, and when she opens it, she enjoys colorful tissue paper wrapping the contents, crowned by a nice thank you card.

Which experience is a recipient more likely to tell their friends about? Or, maybe more importantly, which one are they more likely to share on Instagram?


Unboxing is more than opening a package

Unboxing is about providing a branded, aesthetic opening experience that builds excitement. The customer purchase experience shouldn’t end when the package arrives — that’s when the experience really just begins. The way customers feel about your brand after the purchase determines whether they become repeat customers or remain a one-time buyer.

The unboxing experience is an essential part of that journey and influences those feelings. This can be especially true for online-only retailers, as this is the only physical touchpoint the brand has with the consumer.

Also, the presentation of your products says something about your brand. By paying close attention to detail and delivering an aesthetically-pleasing and well-crafted unboxing experience, you can enhance the perceived value of your brand and the products purchased.

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Elements of a good unboxing experience

While the elements of a good unboxing experience are not universal, here are some of the critical factors to consider when creating your own unique unboxing experience.

The box
Consider the type of box (its material, color, any branding) and how much detail needs to go into it. Remember, this box will be a visible advertisement and should be immediately recognizable for the customer as your brand’s. In most situations, you’ll want to have your logo clearly displayed on the package. 

Also, consider the design and feel. Will it open like a traditional box (taped at the top) or will it be a front-fold design? And consider the texture — will it be smooth and a bit softer than a standard cardboard shipping box? The tactile experience can make a difference for consumers.

Product wrapping
The wrapping inside can have a profound impact on the unboxing experience. A nicely wrapped product likely gives off a “classy” feel, adding to the perceived value of the product. Even if your products come individually packaged in clear bags, like many apparel items do, wrapping the entire order can still add that experiential element of unwrapping. 

While tissue paper is common, you don’t have to use it. Wrapping can be anything that adds that premium feel, such as a bag, ribbon or other material like silk or wool.

Packaging materials
t’s what’s inside that counts, right? The physical material that surrounds your product will also have an impact on the presentation. Using shredded paper, bubble wrap or packing peanuts each conveys a different message. For instance, if you are a brand that is socially responsible, Styrofoam packing peanuts are probably not a good choice. You’d likely want to use socially responsible packaging, such as recycled materials, to match your brand ethos.

Keep in mind that your choices will depend on the types of products you sell. You’ll have more flexibility if you’re shipping something durable versus something fragile. Finally, think about how small design elements can make a big impact, such as with this Tyra Beauty example. Crinkled paper gives the product from a model-backed makeup and skincare brand a more upscale and elegant feel.

Tyra Beauty uses packaging materials to elevate recipients' perception of its product.

Package inserts
Package inserts can take a good experience and turn it into a great one. A simple thank you note can enhance the customer’s experience, especially for loyal customers. Including a small note acknowledging them can not only make them feel like a VIP but also provide them a socially shareable opportunity to become brand advocates. 

Other types of inserts you can use are return slips, coupons for additional purchases, magnets, social media invites and postcards. 

Look at this example from planner and notebook designer Erin Condren, which includes a variety of unbranded postcards to send to others for no other purpose than to spread some cheer. This is a great example of making sure the purchase experience goes beyond opening the package.

Erin Condren provides postcards (center) in its unboxing experience.

Free samples
While not necessary, free samples can up the ante on the unboxing experience. The surprise and delight can make a customer feel special and help drive additional sales. And if you offer free samples, you may want to insert a coupon to encourage a full-sized product purchase.


Unboxing it all

When designing an unboxing experience, you don’t have to overdo it. Whether it involves tissue paper, bubble wrap or no wrapping at all, the thing that matters is that the presentation is memorable and adds to the purchase experience.

A unique unboxing experience is about more than just pretty packaging — it’s about continuing the purchase experience with customers. It can create socially sharable moments, enhance the brand’s perceived value and differentiate you from competitors. As we already know , people remember things that are different and unique.

If you want more proof, look no further than Tiffany & Co. While you may have never purchased or received a piece of Tiffany’s jewelry, you probably know what the box looks like.

 Need some creative inspiration? Find some great unboxing examples.