opening the box
The experience of opening the box is just as much a part of marketing as the graphics on the box. Apple knows this, as we appreciate whenever we open a new iPhone or Mac. Opening the box is our first introduction to the product and Apple thinks through every detail of that process.
I recently bought an HP printer that reminded me that the box opening experience is often overlooked. I spent a full hour trying to get a new printer to work on my network. The HP startup guide didn’t help, so I googled the problem and found dozens of posts from people complaining about the same issue. Finally I found one consumer nice enough to provide a simple solution. It would have been easy for HP to include that same solution in the box (or at least post it on their website), but they didn’t. As a result, when I think of HP, I think of the 60 minutes I spent troubleshooting their new product, not the 30 seconds of their latest ad.
Many brands fumble the box opening moment, but it can be an opportunity to shine if you make it memorable. A couple years ago, I was in charge of launching a new mop kit from Method. We thought through the whole box opening experience and decided to have fun with the manual. Riffing on the adage of “floors so clean, you can eat off them”, we included a book of recipes in the mop kit instructions that could be prepared and served literally on the floor, such as “Braised Chicken on Terracota Tile” and “Linguini on Hardwood”. The recipes included Gourmet-style photography of the meals served on floor surfaces next to sofa legs. You might question the ROI of creating a recipe book. But to us, it was free media.
There are whole websites dedicated to “unboxing”. They feature two-minute long videos of consumers slowly opening high-tech products (the Independent describes unboxing as “geek porn“). Not everyone is creepy enough to film it, but consumers do pay attention to the experience of opening the box. For marketers, unboxing is an opportunity to create talk value.
The best example of the box opening marketing I’ve seen is the Mini Cooper Unofficial Owner’s Manual. It includes tips on everything from back-seat driving to flirting to unconventional uses of headlamps. Finding that manual in the glove box is media you’d remember.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post. I’ll pick one comment by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)