What’s in this article:
- Toy brand, Zuru has built its marketing strategy to focus on the thrill of discovery that allows customers to reveal what the seller has packed in the purchased box
- Zuru has capitalized on recipients who share their reactions to finding out which particular toy was included in their package on TikToks and YouTube videos
- It pays for them because the virality drives sales – an increase of 500% YOY in 2020
Part of the reason why we wrap a gift is to heighten the excitement while it is being unwrapped to reveal the contents. That same kind of excitement plays out in every unboxing video, and that’s what brands are counting on for social shares.
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Modern Retail recently took a look at how start-ups are deliberately putting together “mystery boxes” to send to customers who duly share their unboxing experience on social media. When they hit it right, these videos go viral.
Unboxing videos have been popular for about a decade. But while they started out as video reviews of new electronic gear, they have evolved to focus on the thrill of discovery when it is revealed what the seller has packed in a particular box.
The toy brand Zuru has built its marketing strategy through this. If you look over its product line, you’ll see almost everything is described with “surprise” on the label.
In truth, these are very cheaply made plastic little things. By themselves they would probably garner very little attention.
But the packaging and marketing lend them the mystique of discovery. Also, anyone who seeks to own the whole collection has to keep buying because they don’t know which pieces are contained in the plastic containers.
This is not a new concept but a scaling up of what drew kids in the last century to put a quarter into a vending machine to get a useless little trinket. The fun of it was in finding out what you get more than in the thing itself.
Zuru has capitalized on recipients who share their reactions to finding out which particular toy was included in their package on TikToks and YouTube videos. There are a whole bunch of them posted, some of which are longer than half an hour. You can see one example here:
Modern Retail reports that these videos added up to “over a billion views across several #minibrands hashtags.” This is not due to a spontaneous craze but to the deliberate strategy of working with influencers Henry Gordon, the global marketing director at Zuru, who told Modern Retail that the company works with 2000 of them.
It pays for them because the virality drives sales – to the tunes of an increase of 500% YOY in 2020. Gordon said that in peak time for holiday sales they sold “two mini brands a second, over 400,000 a week.”
Modern Retail attributes the success of Zuru to inspiring other businesses to introduce “surprise boxes,” including Ivory Ella and a startup called Scarce. But it’s not just the mystery of the packaging that makes Zuru’s marketing successful, according to Gordon. He considers the shareable element key.
However, I’m not certain that formula for success is sufficient to sustain a brand for the long term. In 2020, when most entertainment options outside the home remained closed, people consumed more video content and spent more on toys than in a normal year to keep kids entertained.
However, the combination of the unboxing videos becoming too commonplace, as well as the reopening of more attractions outside the home means that people will be able to enjoy the thrill of discovery once again without buying more stuff. For that reason, I believe the thrill will fade, and then marketers will need to move on to something else to attract customer attention.