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.