Why your holiday marketing strategy needs unboxing videos

With Halloween behind us and Christmas coming on fast, every agency and brand is conjecturing about the big digital marketing trend of the 2015 season.

In our recent holiday shopping trend report, we touched on a concept that may be about to take the lead in the race to engage consumers online.

Unboxing videos: this is going to be your year.

This holiday season, a third of millennials will watch an unboxing video, and 75 percent of these consumers say such content has an impact on their purchasing decisions. That’s according to Tremor Video, which recently polled Internet users on their holiday shopping and video viewing behavior.

“Getting the attention of the millennial consumer is notoriously difficult,” said Ariane Gut, VP, Head of Insights & Analytics with Tremor Video. “Marketers have to go to where their audience is and for this demographic, that means short form video. We’ve seen the ‘unboxing’ trend grow over the past couple of years. Marketers, with good reason, are starting to catch on.”

Tremor’s data supports other signs of the trend’s upward trajectory. According to reports, the top-earning YouTube creator can credit unboxing videos with earning her 380 million monthly views and $4.9 million in revenue in 2014.

As it turns out, consumers of all kinds are infatuated with the idea of watching products be revealed on screen – everything from expensive gadgets unpacked on the YouTube channel Unbox Therapy, to sparkle princess Play Doh, an unboxing of which generated an astonishing 375 million views on YouTube.

Unboxing videos are nothing new, but over the past 12 months they’ve quietly gone from niche to mainstream. Google reports that YouTube saw some 20 million searches for the term in late 2014, though the keyword has been popping up since 2006.

Prior to last year’s holiday season, one in five consumers had watched an unboxing video.

“It’s a vicarious pleasure. You don’t have to spend the money and you still get the thrill; it’s a bit like pornography,” a consumer psychologist said of the similar “haul video” trend back in 2010.

No wonder we’re seeing a host of major brands experiment with the increasingly popular concept today. They’re even going so far as to make it a cornerstone of their promotional campaigns.

Awesome stuff, unboxed

YouTube’s recent Awesome Stuff Week is a prime example. Launched in early October, the new channel is running week-long product celebrations with the help of YouTubers and social influencers, who talk products of all kinds and review their favorites. The videos are sponsored by YouTube and designed to promote its shoppable video ad product.

As part of the concept, each day of the week is assigned a theme: Must-Have Monday, Reviewsday Tuesday – and yes – Unbox Thursday. Unboxing videos will also be part of a forthcoming Awesome Stuff Week series centered on holiday gifts.

Toys get in on the fun

You can bet that retailer Toys”R”Us has a holiday marketing strategy in place, and this year it too includes a series of unboxing videos. In association with TV spots and print ads, unboxing videos are being posted to the Toys”R”Us YouTube channel as part of the newly launched AWWWESOME holiday campaign. What makes these unboxing videos unique is that the products, not the consumers, are doing the unboxing.

“Fans can watch as their favorite playthings release each other from their packaging, while showcasing the unique features and personalities of these toys,” the brand said in a statement.

In the first episode of the series, Little People Green Knights unbox a Journey Girls Italy Holiday Doll. In the second, launched last week, it’s Shopkins Shoppies unboxing their all-new Fashion Boutique Playset. This is the brand’s first time using the format.

Each video tells a story that, with a mix of playfulness and humor, appeal to kids and adults alike. In its short time online, the first video has already generated more than a million views, while the second is closing in on 430,000. According to Toys”R”Us, the company will be rolling out 5 to 10 additional unboxing videos in the coming months.

“It’s about that moment on a child’s face when he or she experiences the magical power of play and imagination; it’s that notion of ‘AWWWESOME’ that we want to continue to bring to our fans all season long,” a spokesperson for Toys”R”Us told ClickZ. “We wanted to create a whole world dedicated to evoking that awesome feeling, but also to create more moments for the season and beyond.”

Meanwhile, Disney has been getting in on the action by hosting a series of in-store unboxing events and airing the footage online. Last month, the highly anticipated new toys and collectables from the upcoming film Star Wars: The Force Awakens were revealed through 14 live unboxing sessions at Disney stores around the world.

Brands offering products that lend themselves to this type of experience – from technology and toys to items aimed at millennials – stand to benefit from the buzz around these videos, which we can expect to grow as we get closer to the holidays.

From a marketing strategy standpoint, incorporating an unboxing video into your holiday campaign could mean the difference between capturing your customer’s elusive attention and getting lost in the holiday shopping crowd.

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