The Psychology Behind Unboxing Videos and Why They Matter for Your Beauty Brand


Just before writing this piece, I searched “unboxing” on YouTube. This resulted in 55,900,000 results that ran the gamut from the unboxing of a $7500 PC, to a Barbie Camping Fun in the Woods play set. While the majority of the results were geared towards toys and tech, unboxing videos are in fact one of the top ten most popular types of beauty videos on YouTube.

Considering that 62 percent of millennials say they trust endorsements made by popular YouTubers, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Unboxing has become a form of word-of-mouth marketing. Rather than being told how awesome a product is, consumers now have an opportunity to see for themselves (albeit through the constraints of a computer or mobile phone screen).

Personal care and beauty brands have caught on to this trend, which likely started with the rise in popularity of beauty subscription boxes. Once a clear-cut method for those thinking of subscribing, or anticipating a box of their own to get a glimpse of what each company offered, now unboxing videos provide so much more context: What’s their packaging like? How does their product smell? How much or how little does a consumer get? How does the product wear on the skin?

As a craft brand, you may be wondering why unboxing has spiraled into such a major phenomenon. For the vlogger, it seems, it’s obvious – much like opening birthday presents in front of a room full of well-wishers, unboxing provides a similar feeling to the thrill of unwrapping something new and meant just for them. But what’s in it for the consumer? And how does the psychology behind unboxing translate to real sales for your brand?

Consumers can’t get enough of unboxing videos…

A whopping 66 percent of people who have recently purchased beauty products cited YouTube as one of their reasons for doing so. Currently, one of the top unboxing vloggers is Chase Amie, who posts luxury, fashion, and beauty videos and boasts over 40 thousand subscribers and almost 3 million views.

“The appeal of unboxing videos can be explained by our capacity for empathy,” explains packaging supplier Rajapack. “Humans have the capability to put themselves in someone else’s place. Research has identified responses in the brain called “anticipation circuits”, and it’s these that begin to fire in our own brains when we watch a stranger unbox something.”

As it turns out, as humans, we derive just as much pleasure watching someone else unwrap presents, than if we were unwrapping that very same present ourselves.

…which is great news for your beauty brand

Many brands have taken full advantage of the popularity of unboxing. Disney held a live, 18-hour unboxing marathon, ending with the launch of a new range of Star Wars toys. Hubba brand Glamour Dolls does it by taking extra care of how they package products, making it easier for their customers to want to share their products online. “We realized with it’s all about presentation. This is the same reason people take photos of the food they eat. So, when we send out orders to our customers they are customized, personalized, and complete with a big, pink, tulle bow. We like the orders to resemble a gift…”

Ultimately, each unboxing video represents an opportunity for profit for you as a brand but it’s up to you to reach out and grab that opportunity. Psychology aside, the appeal of unboxing videos for a consumer lies in the fact that they are expecting to get an authentic review of a product – from first impressions to final use. Like anything to do with influencer marketing, consumers look towards their peers to know what products are worth their time and money.

If you’re looking to rake in those views (and bucks), then be sure to connect with an influencer who loves your product and is willing to give honest feedback to their (preferably thousands of) viewers. But don’t just stop at finding someone who will market your product. Like Glamour Dolls, make your product marketable. Make the unboxing experience a fun one and watch those view counts turn into customers!

Dayana Cadet

Dayana Cadet

Dayana’s love affair with writing spans all manner of content. As the Content Specialist at Hubba, connecting people to the things they love is where she thrives.

Follow her at @D_isforDayana
Dayana Cadet