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Unboxing the Current Packaging Experience

Smithers Pira’s E-Pack recap.




On time. No damage.  

Those are the two things I’m looking for when my online purchase is delivered to my door. 

Instagrammable. Selfie-worthy. 

Those are the two things millennials and Gen Z are looking for.

It’s called the unboxing experience: a social media phenomenon in which the unpacking of products is captured on video and uploaded to the Internet. 

Research runs the gamut as to why adults watch celebrities open a gift from a sponsor on Insta or children spend hours watching other kids open toys on YouTube. Whether its mindless pleasure, the excitement of opening something new, or lusting for a product you’ll never have, it’s an experience that is taking over the packaging world: 74 percent of younger consumers (18-25) will share a recent purchase on social media if the product packaging is unique.E-Pack


So, where does your shop fall in this massive trend? How can you make sure your package design and print is making its way to social media? How can you enhance the end user’s unboxing experience? These are the questions for which I sought answers at the inaugural E-Pack: Bridging the Gap on the Path to Delivery, hosted by Smithers Pira in Chicago this past September. And digital print seemed to be the overall answer.

Ushering in the Era of Digital Print for Packaging

“E-commerce and digital print are kind of like chocolate and peanut butter … they just go together,” said Robert Seay, director of digital business ventures, Georgia-Pacific. 

“The incredible speed of digital print and the opportunities in personalization and customization are a no brainer for packaging,” said Rob Dumas, senior package engineer, 3M.

“Digital printing today: cost effective, sustainable, and high-quality,” said Liz Logue, senior director corporate business development, EFI. 

E-Pack boxDigital print for packaging allows customization on all levels: seasonal, regional, promotional, personal. Work with your clients to see how they want to express their brands and what print work you can offer to help them stand out in the world of smartphones. 

For those who are still like me and just want their product in an undamaged box (58 percent of consumers would stop using a brand or go to a competitor if there was damage to the product due to poor packaging), remember this: Digital print allows for packaging product protection. You can crush, puncture, tear, drop, or break the box and the digital print will stay the same. Plus, 80 percent of the packaging market is corrugated (worth $150 billion). Why? Protection.


And for those concerned about their clients in the retail industry who haven’t created an online presence, don’t fear. Brick-and-mortar stores may not be as omnipresent as they were in the ‘80s (Many malls are being redeployed as experience centers, said Greg Tucker, chairman and CEO, Bay Cities – hello, more graphic opportunities), 20 percent of shoppers tried a new product specifically based on an in-store display. Brands must be personalized, regionalized, and differentiated, and the wide-format graphics in stores create that customization.


For live updates from industry conferences and shows around the world, follow Editor-in-Chief Adrienne Palmer and Big Picture magazine on Twitter.




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