Why is Unboxing So Popular and Can You Make Money With It?

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Are you super interested in watching people open up things they buy at the store?  Well, there’s a term for that.  It’s called Unboxing and it’s taking over the internet as the most popular video phenomenon.   In fact it’s so popular that the highest paid Youtube star is a woman who yes, you guessed it, unboxes Disney toys for a living.  The channel, DisneyCollectorBR, features hundreds of videos of well-manicured hands opening Disney toys and an accented voice describing what’s inside of the packaging.   Doesn’t sound too special right?  Wrong.   The 21-year-old woman whose name we don’t know, made $4.9 Million in ad revenue in 2014 just from her Youtube channel.  That doesn’t include any other deals she may in fact have in the works. 

The videos may seem odd but unboxing has become a trend on YouTube, with popular videos ranging from the unpackaging of a pair of $700 Louboutin heels to opening a pack of Bic pens. DisneyCollectorBR’s unboxing videos get millions of hits — her “Play Doh Sparkle Princess,” video has been watched 177,743,026 times. Her channel has a total of 3,481,507 subscribers and 4,750,324,337 views. Other top earners include PewDiePie, a Swedish video game commentator who made $3.99 million in 2014 and littlebabybum, a channel that plays animated children’s songs and made $3.46 million over the year.  In fact, since 2010, the number of YouTube clips with “unboxing” in the headline has increased 871%. Last year alone, 2,370 days, or 6.5 years, worth of unboxing footage was uploaded to the site.

So this begs the question.  What is it about Unboxing that’s drawing such a crowd?  Why is it so popular?   Rather than use one of DisneyCollectorBR’s examples we decided that this video is going to be our example.  It has over 10 million views.  It may be a far cry from the Play Doh Sparkle Princess but you’ll see that it’s just as a good case study as any.  Watch this video and then read our five criteria for why unboxing has become such a phenomenon.

1. The concept is incredibly simple

Remember the pet rock?  No one ever thought that would take off right?  But often times the most simplistic of concepts resonates to an audience.  Everyone loves the reaction or surprise of watching someone open a present for the first time.  However has that phenomenon ever been captured or marketed before?  The answer is not nearly as much as unboxing has captured it.  It’s a warm fuzzy feeling that people get which draws viewers to these videos.  Who wouldn’t feel great about watching these kids light up when opening up their favorite toy?

2.  It’s kid friendly

Kids are the primary target for toy channels, and the videos are shot accordingly, with bright colors, quick cuts and chipper narration.  Some viewers are parents who are playing toy-unboxing videos to entertain their children. The parents might not be able to afford all the toys, but their kids can watch the videos and dream. “Toy unboxing videos are great because kids get to experience the opening just as if they were opening the toys themselves,” said a FluffyJet spokesperson. “As for surprise unboxing videos, it is a real mystery, literally.  Kids seem to love the mystery of seeing what’s inside the surprise and seeing all their favorite toy characters.”

3.  It’s inexpensive

These are extremely low budget videos and some last only a few minutes.  The bottom line is that these are home movies, often and most times shot with a smartphone and uploaded straight to Youtube.  A start to finish of the entire process can take under 30 minutes.   Pretty impressive for something that can draw millions of views.

4.  It’s honest and it’s practical

Some consider the popularity of the practice is due to the ability of showing the product exactly for what it is without any adulteration advertisers usually make around the product. Being able to see what you are getting can contribute to the decision process for buying said product. Some users have tried to make these unboxings more interesting by doing them in different ways or adding special effects.  The most notable of which was an underwater unboxing of a waterproof smartphone.  But even these high tech additions still show the product for exactly what it is and consumers are generally appreciative of that.   As CNN notes:

One reason is purely practical. Unboxing videos offer an unvarnished and honest peek at commercial products. The glossy, heavily retouched images and videos companies share of their goods often vary from what’s really in the box. People want to know what they’re really getting, whether the product looks cheap or well made, or if there are more parts than advertised. It’s research material for devoted comparison shoppers and collectors.

5.  It has the “it factor we can’t explain

Let’s go back to this quote:  “As for surprise unboxing videos, it is a real mystery, literally.  Kids seem to love the mystery of seeing what’s inside the surprise and seeing all their favorite toy characters.”  This is the “it” factor we’re talking about.  As a parent I can’t for the life of me understand why Teletubbies or Barney became so popular.  However, in these instances you don’t ask questions, you just know that people are obsessed.  With unboxing it’s a very similar phenomenon.  We’re not 100% why these videos draw so much attention.  We just know that they do.

Can you make money with Unboxing videos?

The short answer is “yes.”  All you need is a smartphone, a youtube account, and some people who can open the presents you’ll buy.  In fact you don’t even need kids.  Video game unboxing as well as tech product unboxing is incredibly popular.  However, if there’s one thing you’ll have to do in this popular market, it’s differentiate yourself.  If this were 2006, when unboxing first started gaining momentum it would really matter.  But now?  Now you’ve got to have a voice, a brand, and more than likely a niche.   Think unboxing for only one type of toy.  Or think setting up a specific background with your brand.  If you think you’re just going to tape your kids being happy opening their new toys, that won’t work anymore.  Like anything else, it takes work.  But should you try and start an unboxing site, good luck!


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