Unboxing experiences are all the rage these days- and they’re one of my favorite things to help makers and product designers develop through Brick House Branding. The “unboxing” experience is the process of a customer opening and unpacking a delivery from your company. And it’s a rich opportunity to cultivate brand loyalty. However, is it possible to be mindful when creating an eco-friendly unboxing experience?
Google recently revealed that 55% of consumers rely on videos to help them make purchasing decisions.
Unboxing is a direct, intimate touchpoint between a product and a customer. In fact, it’s the last touchpoint of the transaction, and it leaves a big impression. Showing attention to this level of detail communicates that you care about the customer after the sale. Even better? Enriched unboxing experiences actually decrease the rate of product returns, and studies prove that attractive packaging serves as a stimulant for the reward-seeking areas of the brain that are responsible for impulse purchasing.
DEVELOPING AN ECO-FRIENDLY UNBOXING EXPERIENCE
Interest in product unboxing has exploded in the last few years. A search on YouTube this morning unearthed *hundreds of thousands* of results for the term “unboxing.” Gone are the days of throwing your widget in a box with a Plain Jane packing slip and sending the shipment on its merry way.
But does a souped-up unboxing necessarily spell doom for the planet? How can brands with a sustainable bent develop an eco-friendly unboxing that balances their need to build brand loyalty with their target customer’s desire to minimize waste? Is it possible to offer a cool unboxing without offending conscious consumers and dissolving profits?
Indeed it is! Read on, sweet friend, for I have thoughts…
ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF AN ECO-FRIENDLY UNBOXING
Savvy brands create thoughtful, branded presentations that:
- Reiterate and reinforce the core of the brand.
- Thank the customer for their support.
- Increase the perceived value of the product.
- Extend an invitation to continue the connection.
- Boost the chance of a repeat order.
- Encourage social sharing of the products.
But that needn’t translate into a recipe for a heap of waste destined for the landfill? Use this opportunity to make strategic choices about thoughtful touches, then partner with eco-friendly packaging suppliers to create an earth-friendly unboxing that will have Mother Nature beaming with pride.
STEP 1: BEGIN BUILDING EXCITEMENT WITH A BRANDED EXTERIOR.
Get their juices flowing with something on the exterior of the shipment that hints at what’s inside while building brand awareness. There are a number of options available for all budget types.
- BRANDED RUBBER STAMPS + RECYCLED BOXES: Customer rubber stamps are incredibly cost-effective and eco-friendly, too. Pair one with a recycled box from EcoEnclose.
- CUSTOM PACKAGING TAPE: Try custom-branded packaging tape to spice things up. Sticker Mule offers an earth-friendly packaging tape for conscious brands and you can buy a 24″ sample for just $4. Lumi offers branded PVC tapes for heavier packages and/ or those navigating through extreme temperatures, but most brands can get by with eco-friendly, plastic-free custom packaging tape printed with alternative inks.
- BRANDED, AMERICAN MADE SHIPPING BOXES: Packlane creates recyclable, custom-printed mailer boxes that are 100% printed in the USA, and the majority of them contain recycled content.
- COMPOSTABLE MAILERS: Noissue offers a completely compostable mailer made from plant-based materials. You can order as few as 100 stock mailers in a wide range of sizes, and custom designs begin at 30,000 units. Lumi offers custom-printed compostable mailers, too. Mailing art prints or stationery? Try these rigid kraft mailers created from 100% recycled paperboard to ensure protection during shipment.
You need a box or mailer and packaging tape anyway, right? These elements don’t add unnecessary clutter and there are plenty of affordable, sustainable options at the ready.
STEP 2: CHOOSE SUSTAINABLE VOID FILL.
Think of void fill as the “stuff” that cushions the product within the shipment. Modern consumers view static-infused packaging peanuts and old-school bubblewrap as the scourge of their existence, and there are better options available. Aim for something eco-friendly whose production is gentle on the planet. Ideally, it’s easy on the eyes and can be repurposed, too.
- CORRUGATED BUBBLE: This is a viable alternative to bubble wrap. Ideal for delicate items such as ceramics and glass candle or apothecary vessels, it’s created from 100% recycled cardboard made entirely from post-consumer and post-industrial waste. Pair the wrap with biodegradable cornstarch peanuts, if need be, for gentle cushioning of fragile items.
- PACKAGING PAPER: These large paper rolls can be made from either kraft or newsprint in various thicknesses. They’re ideal for wrapping bottles or apparel.
- GREENWRAP: This is another stellar alternative to bubble wrap. I used it for many years as the preferred shipping material at my beauty brand, and customers often reached out to compliment us on the unusual choice. You can also search for it under the brand name “Geami.”
- CUSTOM TISSUE: Custom-branded tissue adds a special touch to jewelry, apparel, and cosmetic shipments. Noissue uses soy-based inks and FSC certified paper, plus they plant a tree for every order they receive. Their online tissue designer is deliciously easy to use, too! Try sealing the tissue with eco-friendly stickers from Noissue.
- PAPER + WOOD SHREDS: Nashville Wraps offers several eco-friendly void fill options. Check out their paper shreds in a dizzying number of colors. Wood excelsior is natural and 100% biodegradable, made from non-toxic Aspen wood fibers.
You need to cushion those products anyway, yes? So why not opt for on-brand (or fully branded) cushioning components that reinforce and celebrate your sustainable ethos? The choices are endless and, as sustainability becomes a prominent facet of our daily conversation, new options will continue to enter the market.
STEP 3: BE THOUGHTFUL ABOUT INCLUSIONS.
You don’t have to throw everything-and-the-kitchen sink into the parcel to enrich the unboxing. Quite the contrary. This is one of those arenas where less is often more, especially for eco-minded consumers. These are my “must-have” elements:
- A HANDWRITTEN THANK YOU NOTE: It needn’t be a novel. A quick line or two written by a real, live person adds a necessary human touch, and that goodwill goes a loooong way.
- AN ARTIST BIO OR MESSAGE ABOUT THE BRAND’S CORE VALUES: I help my Brick House Branding students craft a manifesto to be tucked into each outbound shipment. Sharing your values and your passion is of paramount importance. Pro tip: You can print this bio/manifesto on an oversized postcard, reserving the back for the handwritten note.
- AN INVITATION TO CONTINUE THE CONNECTION: Reach out a friendly hand to your consumer by sharing your social media handles and inviting them to stay connected. Invite them to leave a product review on your site. Share your email and invite them to write to you. This doesn’t require a tremendous amount of space. and can be added to the same insert as the handwritten note and bio. If you’re keeping score, this is one (1- singular) insert in the package that kills three birds with one stone.
- SOMETHING FUN: If you’re up for tucking an eco-minded bonus into that box, then try these ideas on for size…
Personal care brands: Create a doorhanger that customers can hang on their bathroom to create a spa-like oasis. Including a new product sample is always a wise choice.
Specialty food or beverage companies: Try a custom-printed paperboard coaster emblazoned with your logo and a recipe or serving suggestion.
Stationery companies: I love a pencil emblazoned with something witty. These eco-friendly custom pencils are made in the USA from FSC certified wood.
Jewelers: Use a custom rubber stamp to create an earth-friendly branded travel bag for your pieces.
Candle brands: Slip a tealight of a complementary fragrance into your packages and consider pairing them with custom matches.
Whatever you choose, remember that functionality is key. Give your customers something they’ll use rather than toss! One more morsel to chew on: Members of the Think Tank (my mastermind for makers and product designers) have been batting around the idea of allowing customers to opt-out of an enriched unboxing during checkout. That could be as simple as a checkbox which puts the buyer in the driver’s seat of the choice. In this case, you could slim things back even further, opting out of “step 3” (thoughtful inclusions) altogether.
WHAT DOES YOUR UNBOXING LOOK LIKE?
I’d love to know! Drop a comment below if you’ve made an eco-conscious choice with your unboxing, or if you have a preferred vendor or packaging resource to share. Let’s formulate a valuable resource together to help build our brands without sacrificing the planet. Share your eco-friendly unboxing experience with us in the comments. I hope you feel empowered and inspired to re-examine your own process and make positive changes!