Why Brands Are Flocking To Unboxing Videos

Unbox­ing videos offer huge poten­tial for brands look­ing to nur­ture con­sumers on the path to pur­chase.

Pat Hong By Pat Hong from Linkdex. Join the discussion » 2 comments

Dis­ney recent­ly host­ed an 18-hour unbox­ing video marathon to pro­mote their new range of “Star Wars: The Force Awak­ens” toys. Tak­ing place on YouTube, the live event reflects a grow­ing recog­ni­tion among brands for video “unbox­ings” – a for­mat con­sumers have been engag­ing with on YouTube for years. Are brands start­ing to catch on?


Unbox­ing videos have been around almost as long as online video-shar­ing plat­forms them­selves. Their pop­u­lar­i­ty has an endur­ing appeal.

In what must have been one of, if not the first unbox­ing video, this remark­able record­ing from 1978 revealed an ear­ly beta­max recorder, which was actu­al­ly used to record the video itself!

Disney’s 18-hour glob­al broad­cast, which cul­mi­nat­ed with the release of new toys on Sep­tem­ber 4, or #Force­Fri­day, rep­re­sents a pin­na­cle of how sig­nif­i­cant the unbox­ing video for­mat has become, and also how such videos are increas­ing being rec­og­nized by brands as being a fan­tas­tic and pop­u­lar form of con­tent.

Unboxing The Numbers

The term “unbox­ing” start­ed to gain pop­u­lar­i­ty around 2006 and has expe­ri­enced grow­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty ever since, accord­ing to Google Trends.

There are more than 20 mil­lion search results on YouTube for “unbox­ing”, and one-fifth of con­sumers have watched an unbox­ing video, accord­ing to a Think with Google arti­cle from Novem­ber. Views of unbox­ing videos also surged 57 per­cent in 2014, and the num­ber if “unbox­ing” uploads also rose 50 per­cent.

In addi­tion, a WSJ arti­cle quot­ed that video ana­lyt­ics firm Zefr revealed that these videos had been viewed a total of 10.3 bil­lion times.

Enduring Appeal & Authenticity

In many ways, it’s clear why the for­mat has expe­ri­enced a reju­ve­nat­ed appeal in tan­dem with the rise of video shar­ing plat­forms.

The pop­u­lar­i­ty of unbox­ing videos stems from how it gives con­sumers “the abil­i­ty [to see prod­ucts] exact­ly for what it is, with­out any adul­ter­ation adver­tis­ers usu­al­ly make around the prod­uct,” accord­ing to the PBS Idea Chan­nel.

In oth­er words, the for­mat has that ele­ment of authen­tic­i­ty, which can be very per­sua­sive for con­sumers in the research stage of a pur­chase deci­sion. As the PBS pre­sen­ter states, “being able to see what you are get­ting can con­tribute to the deci­sion­al process.”

Unbox­ing videos are now a pop­u­lar part of the research process, espe­cial­ly in tech­nol­o­gy. Con­sumers research­ing a mobile phone pur­chase, for exam­ple, can see how the prod­uct is pack­aged, dis­cov­er what extras it comes with, and get an ear­ly look at the product’s set up and user inter­faces.

How Influential Are Unboxing Videos?

The influ­ence of these unbox­ing videos can be huge.

An Octoly study in Octo­ber of Birch­box unbox­ing videos revealed that earned media views from unbox­ing videos (14.5 mil­lion) eclipsed the brand’s organ­ic views (600,000) and 2 mil­lion paid views. A sin­gle influ­encer chan­nel, eleven­th­gor­geous, were respon­si­ble for almost 35 per­cent of the brand’s earned media audi­ence with a series of videos that have an audi­ence of over 5 mil­lion view­ers.

When you con­sid­er Google data indi­cat­ing that as much as 62 per­cent of con­sumers who watch an unbox­ing video are “research­ing a par­tic­u­lar prod­uct” its clear that the reach and influ­ence of unbox­ing videos has huge poten­tial for brands look­ing to nur­ture con­sumers on the path to pur­chase.

Leveraging Owned & Earned Media

Unbox­ing videos rep­re­sent an influ­en­tial owned media asset for brands, but increas­ing­ly brands are exper­i­ment­ing with the demand for unbox­ings.

Disney’s glob­al stunt lever­aged the pop­u­lar­i­ty and demand for the medi­um while adding an ele­ment of PR spec­ta­cle that won innu­mer­able head­lines and cov­er­age. It also worked in syn­er­gy with a social media cam­paign for #Force­Fri­day, which was des­tined to be pop­u­lar with a world­wide legion of fans and col­lec­tors.

Disney’s live unbox­ing video also demon­strat­ed how a brand can add their own spin to the medi­um by offer­ing some­thing more extrav­a­gant than a typ­i­cal unbox­ing, cre­at­ing its own cul­tur­al moment.


Unbox­ing videos may have been around for the bet­ter part of a decade, but it appears brands are now start­ing to rec­og­nize the valid­i­ty of the for­mat. Disney’s stunt may just mark the first in a wave of more brand unbox­ing videos.

Pat Hong

Written by Pat Hong

Editor at Linkdex/Inked, Linkdex

Pat covers the SEO industry, digital marketing trends, and anything and everything around Linkdex. He also authors Linkdex's data analysis and reports, analysing the state of search in various industries.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

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