Innovative packaging, unboxing videos and creating ‘theatre’

The rise of e-commerce has presented marketers and brand managers with many different challenges. One of the most critical is how to build brand loyalty when shoppers haven’t left their homes or stepped inside a store.

E-commerce may have ushered in an age of convenience but it has also significantly reduced the number of meaningful touchpoints between brand and consumer. This has the potential to seriously impact brand love and repeat purchases.

According to research by Gallup, if a customer is emotionally connected to a brand, then it will positively affect both the frequency of a customer’s visits and the amount of money they spend during those visits.

how can a company build a strong emotional connection despite limited contact?

So how does this work online? How can a company build a strong emotional connection despite limited contact? Could secondary packaging provide a surprising solution to marketers’ headache?

It’s more important than ever for retailers to engage and impress customers post purchase and packaging is fundamental to this. Currently one of the most under-utilised marketing opportunities, innovative packaging can enable the brand experience to carry on in the home or office.

In fact, receiving an online order has the potential to become a highlight of a customer’s day and a magical moment of “home theatre”. Office workers often gather round, looking on in envy, as a colleague receives and opens an online order – everyone caught up in the excitement of the delivery and “big reveal.”


Evidence of this trend is seen in the fact that the ‘unboxing’ video is now popular on YouTube, particularly for luxury companies like Trunk Club or Beauty Box. Customers love to share the moment they open their package and see exactly what lies inside. Customers have begun appreciating every stage of the journey – setting eyes on the parcel as the postman comes to the door, handling it for the first time, unwrapping it using intelligent openings, seeing how the product is protected and held in place, and finally touching it.

Through intricate design, manufacturers can create a package which is a thing of beauty in its own right - in fact in some cases; customers will want to keep the box as a keepsake and order again, just so they can get another beautiful box.

the right visuals can trigger emotions and feelings that make a customer feel really special

As well as being skilfully designed, a pack with the right visuals can trigger emotions and feelings that make a customer feel really special. The look and feel of the packaging – the colours, imagery and typography – can evoke a sense of a certain sort of lifestyle or wellbeing, for example a luxury or healthy lifestyle.

Advancements in digital print techniques have enabled packaging specialists to offer brands the highest quality, image fidelity and consistency of print, as well as the flexibility to produce high volumes, that ties in with an advertising campaign or consumer pack branding.

In addition, new digital print capabilities for outer and transit packaging means that retailers are now in a position to customise the inner liner of the pack and engage with customers at the moment of truth.

This won’t usually affect the outside of the box - it is essential that online purchases don’t draw attention to themselves and become an advert to potential thieves. Most packs should be relatively plain on the outside – all the excitement is on the inside.

Home theatre

E-commerce businesses mustn’t overlook packaging as a key component of their offering. Innovative packaging can replace the shop floor experience and extend the brand messaging into the home. In contrast, we all know what it is like to receive a poorly presented product with no internal packing or literature. It feels like an anti-climax and as if the company didn’t care enough about me or my purchase to warrant any extra detail.

a beautiful unwrapping experience however doesn’t have to be environmentally damaging

What’s more, a beautiful unwrapping experience however doesn’t have to be environmentally damaging. Cleverly designed packaging which optimises the materials used and is itself recyclable will delight increasingly sustainably-minded customers, without compromising on the high quality look that is synonymous with their brand.

Of course, as well as creating a moment of magic when the parcel is opened, it is vital that packaging still does the basics well. It must transport goods safely and survive, for example, on a wet doorstep for a few hours, as well as being easy to open and use for returns.

Finally, if a brand goes to extraordinary lengths to generate this special moment, it is fundamental that it is not let down by any other part of the customer journey. The home theatre must be supported by seamless customer service, an easy returns process and great functionality online.

My hope is that before long the business community as a whole will realise the potential packaging has to maintain and build brand loyalty in an era when face to face contact is reducing. 

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