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The phenomenon of “Unboxing”: do we buy a product or packaging?

The phenomenon of “Unboxing”: do we buy a product or packaging?

**This article has been translated automatically and will be reviewed soon.**

In this era where e-commerce is the new shopping experience, people are starting to have expectations when receiving their packages. It seems people want to unwrap gifts...


In French, you could call it an unboxing experience.

It's the act of receiving in the mail, opening a package and unpacking a new product. Since we bought it online, it's quite possible that we've never seen it in real life, or even touched it. We then have the possibility of manipulating it, of discovering it, of exploring its components. As soon as we open our shipping box, it is our first contact with the product and sometimes even with the brand.

Some people film these experiences and share them on social media to create excitement or anticipation for a new product. It can also help people understand how a product works and/or what it includes.


Normally, when you receive a package in the mail, you just want the box not to be too messy. We hope that the contents are well protected... against rain, against breakage, against heat or cold and even against cigarette smoke, because some carriers smoke in their delivery vehicles (!).

But in recent years, new conventions have been created and people now expect more from this box.


When a package is sent to an influencer, the packaging is often more elaborate to provide an extraordinary unboxing experience. For these social media stars, it’s a job; they are paid to open boxes on screen and show people their #receivedproduct content. It is therefore normal that companies make special efforts to create unique packaging, sometimes made of wood, sometimes wrapped in fabric and in all cases, more expensive.

The phenomenon of “ Unboxing” began around this time. Everyone wants the same package opening experience, which creates higher and higher expectations from customers.


Aesthetics and textures pleasant to the touch:

We want the box to be pretty, for the inside to be tidy, for it to look nice when we open the box. Sometimes there is a tissue paper with a sticker that packages the product. We like it when the packaging is soft, when it is fun to handle and pleasant to open (like getting hurt when opening a product is a no-no).

The human touch:

When we receive an order with a little personalized message or a signature, we know that we are not just an order number. It adds a personal, human touch.

It's always cool too to read the story behind the product, behind the people who made the product or about the brand's mission.


Receiving a gift with your order is always a plus! A sample or a little treat is always a pleasure.


These memorable experiences are the stuff of dreams, but when you add all these little things together, in total it's $5-8 per order... Just for an unboxing experience. It’s still crazy! The customer does not see it, but it is reflected directly in the profit margin (or it is reflected at some point in the price of the products).

This is probably why the larger the company, the less there are goodies and customization or the more all of this is done in China without questioning the environmental footprint of the choices that have been made.


Obviously, printing everything in the company's colors, the "wow" packaging, the notes, the boxes, often involves production in Asia or unnecessary overpackaging.

The box :

The pretty custom box in which the order is delivered, you have to print 5000 of them if you want to have a decent price in Quebec (and then again). So they are often printed in China.


Then, this pretty box is sometimes permanently marked by certain companies with our name inside, written by hand. It's a nice touch, but afterwards, it is difficult to reuse the box, because giving it to someone a box where it says “Thank you Marie-Ève ​​for your order”, it’s weird. And when it's marked on a card, it's cute for a second, but the card will end up in recycling after said second.

Tissue paper:

Same thing for tissue paper. Why use it if it's just to look cute and end up in the recycling 2 seconds later?

The goodies:

For goodies, you have to be careful. Examples of not-so-great goodies: Receiving a wax to melt in a diffuser, when you don't have a diffuser, a key ring when 98% of people don't need it, samples of beauty products in bags plastic ones that you'll never use or black licorice candies... You really have to think about what everyone might like and find useful. And all this, without producing too much waste!

Even worse, there could be disappointed people. We have already sent small beeswax packages in our orders and the customer had written to us not to receive any in her next order because she was vegan. We have reached an era where we should check the goodie we would like to have in our order!

In the biggest companies, the goodie is more marketing (I don't know if we can call it goodies, because it's a bit pocket). It is often a card (or several cards) with discounts for a redemption or for a purchase with another partner company. Then another one that says “Take a photo/video of me using this hashtag”, then another “Join our community”. We're not going to hide it, these are cards that are all collected in the recycling.


Since its beginnings in 2017, Bateau Bateau has long sent its packages in polymailers. This was the least expensive and most efficient way of shipping. A polymailer can be folded and therefore the products are “vacuum-packed” but without being compressed inside. This makes for a much smaller shipment volume and therefore a lighter impact given that the carbon impact is calculated by volume. The fabric was also more protected from odors during transport.

Since 2022, we have been testing things: we have considerably reduced shipments in free Purolator bags and we are turning to cardboard boxes (either recovered or new). The new ones cost $2 more each than the Puro polymailers, but the package opening experience is improved... and we avoid plastic.

In the package, there is as little packaging as possible. We hate sending boxes within boxes so you may find your toiletry kit “in bulk” next to your bidet. There are just our rolls that we wrap in kraft paper, because they make smouch smouch because of the cut (you really have to wash them upon receipt by the way).

We also offer goodies for certain orders and this changes over the years. For a long time we offered a small bath bomb which had the advantage of smelling good and which gave a pleasant smell to the package. Currently, we offer a small thank you card when purchasing tissues, but we wanted it to be reusable! It is therefore a scent card on which we can put a drop of essential oil and place at the bottom of the kit or the pouch so that our tissues smell good (or eucalyptus when we have a cold).

This card is sprayed with a mist before sending. It is therefore possible that your package smells like unicorn fart!

Otherwise, for certain large orders, we offer a small round of handmade ceramic diffuser or a Malted soap made from beer spent grains. We like local partnerships and we always try to think of products that are useful and/or correlate with our values.


As much as it's fun to receive packages that are pleasant to unpack, it also makes me uncomfortable when there's a bunch of useless stuff inside.

We must be aware as consumers that creating an Unboxing experience costs companies a lot of money for an experience that will last 1 minute and potentially create a lot of waste.

I also feel like the smaller and more local the business, the more memorable experience you expect! Would it never occur to us to receive a little chocolate in our Amazon order or a personalized note in our Nike order?

Our expectations should be at their lowest. The sole purpose of shipping packaging should be to protect the contents so that they get to us. Point. The rest is really just a bonus, it shouldn't be a norm.

Like when someone brings donuts to the office. We're happy that day, but we shouldn't complain when there's no donut in the morning at the office. And conversely, if the employee starts to screw up with his donuts and brings 100 a day when there are 12 of us in the office, we can also tell him that it's nice, but that it's not good. sense!

Exactly, tell that to the companies that go a little too far with their packaging! They could undoubtedly cut back on certain items in the future that you find completely superfluous. This could help relieve the pressure that the Unboxing phenomenon has created. And at the same time, it would potentially result in less waste.

And if it works...

Share the content more than the container on social networks.

Thank companies that send packages in collected boxes.

Tell them if you liked their goodie and that it was useful to you.


What kind of goodies have you ever received that won your heart or made your day?

And have you ever had Unboxing experiences that made you uncomfortable because it was so wasteful?

By M.eve

I enjoy questioning and informing myself, and write! It's through this blog that I take the time to speak to you transparently about my business or share what I learn or observe regarding environmental topics that concern us all.


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