Unboxing videos have become a phenomenon in recent years. On YouTube the growth of unboxing clips grew by over 50% alone in 2014 and by over 870% since 2010, indicating that it’s also a very lucrative business for YouTubers. Considered by many as somewhat nerdy and oddball, it is however very easy to see the attraction in watching a complete stranger carefully slicing through a security sticker with a Swiss Army Knife, then delicately revealing the long-awaited contents inside that expensive-looking box. But unboxing videos aren’t just about shiny new iPhones and graphics cards. Toys are arguably the most popular, with Play Doh Ice cream cupcakes playset playdough by Unboxingsurpriseegg attracting a staggering 855 million views. The Mommy and Gracie show, a channel dedicated to toys on YouTube has almost a million subscribers, hundreds of videos and nearly 500 million views. Those numbers aren’t really all that surprising when you consider that unboxing in itself is reminiscent of Father Christmas arriving in your living room every day and let’s face it, kids’ toys are the perfect playground.
Unboxing Is Very Personal
Clearly, if you’ve outgrown Play Doh, Barbie Dolls and Lego fire trucks just like I have, you’ve maybe moved on to what I would term shiny thing syndrome and if you’re coveting a particular tech gadget, what better way to initially get your rocks off than watching someone else opening the box, thus increasing your anticipation to fever pitch. For example, when I developed secret plans to acquire a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge prior to my recent trip to the UK, I sifted through numerous S7 unboxing videos, rejected most of them because the presenter wasn’t right and settled on one or two that fitted the bill perfectly. What’s important here is that the presenter isn’t the star of the show, it’s the shiny thing they’re unboxing. Unless of course he or she has a way about them that perfectly compliments that special moment. For example, when the cellophane strip is removed from the front of a smartphone for the first time and they are able to convey that excitement by words alone, taking care not to talk over the actual sound of the plastic coming off. Still with me? Here’s an example.
I suppose it’s a matter of degrees and yes, the product is ultimately the star of the show as is illustrated in this unboxing video for the iPhone 7. The presenter’s tone of voice is unhurried, calm and knowledgeable. He clearly knows his iPhones, which is maybe why he’s garnered nearly 10 million views. But my only criticism is that he comes across as a bit of a cold fish; not enough starstruck child for my liking. See what you think.
On the other hand, this unboxing of a monster $7500 Digital Storm gaming PC exudes unbridled enthusiasm and perhaps some trepidation, particularly since the presenter admits to being a console fan, but then we can’t hold that against him.
It’s also interesting to note that many unboxings are for sponsored products, like this Digital Storm PC which, to be fair, the presenter makes clear from the beginning. This can often lead to a sense of blasé detachment to the product, particularly since the presenter in question hasn’t had to dig into their own pockets to pay for that shiny new gadget. For my part, I do prefer to watch an unboxing by someone who has bought the product with their own hard-earned cash, which lends the video a more personal edge as this video shows.
Then of course we have the subject of languages, dialect and the numerous versions of English. I tend to steer away from unboxings that begin ‘Yo dudes! What’s up guys?‘, which is usually followed by a commentary delivered at the speed of a machine gun and for me anyway, is a complete turn off. Perhaps it’s my age, who knows? And it’s also true that, possibly due to my rather stiff, British boarding school upbringing, I prefer the measured tones of the Queen’s English. On the other hand, some presenters manage to combine infectious enthusiasm with a style that is both easy to watch and conveys the nuances of the product that would be present if we were to be doing the actual unboxing ourselves. This California girl has topped over 4 million subscribers and over 700 million views since 2006, perhaps because she exudes natural enthusiasm and a charm that translates seamlessly through video.
On the other hand, not all unboxings are roses and violets, particularly if you’ve ordered online without doing your homework and even worse if you’ve saved up for months to buy that iPhone 7 you always wanted and all is not what it should seem. Warning: may induce tears of pity and possibly wrath when you wonder if this video is fake or not.
Talking of fake, which is a word much in vogue nowadays, I came across the oddest unboxing video yesterday and the joke could possibly be on me, because I was taken in hook, line and sinker. Judge for yourself.
And finally, unboxing an Nvidia GTX 1080 or is it a 1080 Ti?
I like the production of this unboxing. Slick, very professional and with a twist at the end, which brings me to some general observations and preferences.
Unboxing videos are best viewed when filmed with a tripod, with no shaky images ruining the film. The voice-over should compliment the unboxing and not take over the real star of the show– what’s inside the box. Personal presentation is also very important, such as clean hand and fingernails. Lack of attention to those sorts of details can be a real turn-off.
What are your views on unboxing videos? Please tell us in the comments section below.