Social media is vast, yet some videos, audios, and challenges go viral in an instant. Some trends last the test of time, and others vanish in a week. Trends move so quickly it’s nearly impossible to predict, but while they’re in the spotlight, we can examine how they got there, why we love them, and why some may hate them.
The holidays are around the corner, so diving into the unboxing trend for the second edition of Going Viral is only natural. While unboxing is a never-fading trend that is participated in year-round, it is the perfect trend to engage in during the holidays. So, how did it come to be? And why are millions mesmerized by it?
Let’s Unpack the Unboxing Trend
The action of the trend is in the name! Unboxing is when a creator opens their newly received package on camera, but you probably already knew that! These videos give viewers a creator’s authentic reaction to opening the box and their first impressions. Unboxing is a highly prevalent trend across social media. We can imagine that everyone has seen an unboxing video at some point in their scrolling, whether they were scrolling yesterday or browsing the internet over 10 years ago.
Yes, over 10 years ago!
Google trends shows that the term unboxing began to surface on the internet in 2006. That means unboxing has been around for almost as long as today’s social media giants like YouTube and Facebook. And what is believed to be the first unboxing video to hit YouTube? According to Yahoo Tech, it’s the opening of a Nokia E61 cellphone! From then on, the term’s usage began growing significantly more popular in the mid-2010s.
Today, unboxing hasn’t gone anywhere. According to YouTube, amateur unboxing videos featuring all types of products have been viewed more than 1.1 billion times, and at least 60 million hours have been spent watching these videos. As social media has progressed into new territory, the unboxing trend has followed and is highly popular among Instagram and TikTok creators.
Even though TikTok is still a young platform in comparison to others, such as Instagram, the trend is going strong, and the unboxing hashtag has amassed over 54.3 billion views. Additionally, #unboxinghaul has 212.8 million views, and #unboxingasmr has 388.2M million views (you have to love the trend crossover)!
The number of videos with these hashtags rises daily, indicating that people’s love for unboxing videos is seemingly undying. But why is that?
Let’s Unbox Our Brains
Whether it’s a new lipstick, blender, or gaming console, the excitement of buying that special product we’ve had our eye on for a while is undeniable. Whether we buy it online or in person, the purchase causes our brains to release a burst of dopamine, the “happy hormone.” However, have you noticed we are especially drawn to online shopping? More than half of consumers prefer it. Why is that?
Psychology Today credits our love for online shopping to the delayed gratification principle. Delayed gratification is the resistance of an impulse to take an immediately available reward in hope of obtaining a more valuable reward in the future. While online shopping can still be considered impulse buying – here’s the reasoning behind it:
“In the case of internet shopping, the reward might come in terms of easy shopping now versus more effortful but more immediate in-store shopping. Thus, the delay in gratifying one’s initial wants and demands results in the anticipatory pleasure that is experienced while waiting for the product to arrive in the mail,” said Alan Castel, Ph.D., professor of cognitive psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Delayed gratification states that waiting for the package to arrive makes the product even more desirable and enhances our appreciation for it. And as for the anticipatory pleasure of waiting? One study even suggests that our brain releases more dopamine in anticipation of the reward (our package) than the actual reward.
For example, each time we check where our package is at in its journey – dopamine! It draws out the neural reward system that is at play. Therefore, once the process is complete, we keep returning for more, causing our online shopping love to be born.
Ok, so how does unboxing fit into all of this?
We love ordering, receiving, and opening packages, and we love watching people do the same! Psychology Today states that watching unboxing videos gives us a dash of dopamine. Additionally, 87% of consumers are inspired to take action, such as making purchases, after seeing products shared by creators; it’s fair to say the happiness hormone plus online influence fuels our desire to have the same experience as the content creator. To us, it seems like unboxing is just one more step in the neural reward system described above.
Unboxing Meets Brands?
Not exactly! Unlike many other online trends, this trend is actually dependent on brands and has been since its inception. Without a brand’s products, this trend wouldn’t be possible because the entire concept is centered around making a purchase and opening it on camera.
When creators choose to make unboxing videos about a product they are highly anticipating, it can be excellent exposure for the brand. Since brands discovered this, they began partnering with creators and sending packages for them to open and spread awareness and excitement about their products.
The unboxing phenomenon has encouraged brands to put more personalization and care into their packaging. If a brand wants to hop on this trend, it’s important to make the experience of opening the package a truly exciting one.
This is best accomplished by:
- Creating a stunning and unique design for your package.
- Adding personalization to your package, such as notes.
- Adding a free extra gift(s) to surprise the consumer. Think stickers, samples, or other small items.
“I LOVE unboxings! Maybe it is the fact that it is probably something I will never buy for myself, but I love the idea of revealing what is inside a box! I also am a sucker for packaging, and I think it goes such a long way. Great packaging with fun surprises makes for such exciting content. I specifically like to consume this kind of content more long form on YouTube and Instagram Reels.”
– Merzia Cutlerywala, Associate Account Manager
Additionally, this trend is not exclusive to any type of product. Any brand from any niche can tap into this trend.
Are you a sustainable brand? Make your packaging fully recyclable or biodegradable. Are you a beauty brand? Toss in some free perfume samples in your package. Are you a brand with playful or strong messaging? Deck your packaging out in colorful and loud designs that let consumers hear your voice.
As we discussed, unboxing has been around for quite some time. This means it is highly important to get creative with the concept. You can try this by combining the elder trend with newer trends. For example, combine unboxing with a GRWM video, a #cleantok video, or even an ASMR video.
Another way to get creative with it is to partner with creators who authentically resonate with your target audience. They will be able to bring an extra layer of joy to the video and add their unique twists to the trend.
Get Inspired by these brand’s campaigns:
Abercrombie & Fitch
@elisaty_ Werbung | I love everything from this haul, but the cargo skirt is definitely my fav! It fits me perfectly, is so flattering and also super comfy!! #HollisterHaul @Hollister Co. ♬ Blossoming in My Heart – Adelyn Paik
Metro by T-Mobile
NURISH by Nature Made
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The unboxing trend has been around longer than we may have realized and has truly lasted the test of time. Maybe you have tapped into the trend, but have you done so with extreme creativity?