What Brands Can Borrow from ‘Unboxing’

Apple has come to dominate the tech industry not just because of its exceptional product design. Apple’s packaging is designed with the same user experience in mind. The box your Apple Watch or iPhone arrives in is perfectly executed: beautiful, elegantly functional, intuitive, and pleasurable. It’s the ideal expression of the brand’s ethos, an exemplar of the product within.

In recent years, unboxing has gone from being a holiday experience, to an online fad, to a powerful ecommerce marketing tool. People make YouTube videos that document the moment they open a product box they’ve brought home from a retailer or ordered online.

Unboxing is More than Opening a Box

The word ‘unboxing’ has come to represent the physical encounter someone has with a brand or product: the act of opening a package, taking out the item, engaging with it through touch. For wine and spirits brands, we think of unboxing as basically every aspect of the consumer’s experience with the product before they take that first sip.

That encompasses how the product looks, whether it’s in an alcohol packaging box or bottled, on the retail shelf and its ability to capture attention and prompt someone to pick it up. It might include any point of sale or display messaging.

Unboxing experiences might also feature special gifts, like a branded stopper or glasses. (For a look at a truly out-of-this-world unboxing experience, check out Craft Irish Whiskey’s ultra-exclusive Emerald Isle collection.) And it extends to the consumer’s experience when he gets the product home: the feel of the label, the experience of opening the cap, even how the bottle looks on the bar.

Every touch point in the unboxing experience has the potential to elevate the consumer’s perception of the brand. It reassures the buyer about the product’s quality and creates a heightened sense of anticipation. “If the brand put that much thought into this special box or label,” he thinks, “then the liquid inside must be amazing.”

While this concept of unboxing might seem best suited to limited-edition products, that’s not necessarily the case. For example, when we worked with the Crazy Cock brand of whisky, we created a shipping/gift box in addition to the label. The box itself is a standard, off-the-shelf paperboard carton, and so it’s not expensive. But because the design is so visually gorgeous, it enhances the whisky drinker’s experience with the product.

Creating an Immersive Consumer Experience

This holistic approach to a consumer’s journey with the brand allows you to script the experience in a way that expresses your story to the fullest. And when you create multiple opportunities to tap into the sense of touch, you deepen the consumer’s connection to the brand.

Consumers use their hands to make decisions about what to buy. And when the product itself isn’t actually something you can touch, then packaging is the stand-in. What’s more, it becomes a billboard for the brand even after purchase, whether it’s displayed on a home countertop or a wine bar shelf. It makes your product highly giftable and shareable on social media.

In fact, you might consider experience even before you think about marketing or product development. What senses or emotions do you want to trigger? What do you want the consumer to feel before she pours that first glass? With those goals in mind, what does the unboxing experience need to look like?

Alcohol packaging and boxes are like gift wrap. We could just give Dad that new sweater. But when we take the time to wrap it in luxury paper with an embellished bow, it makes the gift feel more special.

Consumers are buying more than what’s inside your bottle; they’re buying social status, good times with friends and family, pleasure, and relaxation. We can help you make that experience feel even more special. Let’s talk about your brand.

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Let’s create something beautiful.

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