Lifting the lid on our 2022 Unboxing Survey results

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Throughout July and August this year, we surveyed over 1,000 consumers about their online shopping experiences and what they thought about the packaging retailers are using to ship deliveries.

2022 marks our seventh annual Unboxing Survey and our largest ever response from online shoppers! This year we’ve seen more stability return to the retail market, as consumers were once again able to visit high street stores, as well as shop online.

Our latest unboxing research aimed to uncover if retailers are using the right amount of packaging and if brands are maximising the marketing opportunity packaging presents. We also wanted to uncover what consumers thought about the environmental credentials of retailers’ packaging materials.

As we lift the lid on our 2022 Unboxing Survey results, we’ll take a look at what’s changed in the past seven years when it comes to ecommerce packaging, how branded is influencing consumer purchasing decisions and how sustainable packaging is an absolute must in the face of eco-conscious consumerism.

Blog Contents

damaged packages macafarlane packaging

What’s changed when it comes to online retailers and packaging in the last seven years?

Since we launched our unboxing research in 2016, lots has changed in the online retail market. The ecommerce industry has seen accelerated growth, particularly in the past few years, because of pandemic restrictions driving people to shop online more than ever before.

And the packaging that retailers are using has changed too in the past seven years. Here’s what we’ve learned:

  • Less online retailers are overpacking their products – only 14% of consumers report retailers are using too much packaging compared to 41% reporting that retailers were using too much packing in 2016.
  • Online retailers are using packaging that more effectively protects against damages – in the seven years that have passed, parcels with contents arriving damaged dropped to a low of 5% in our 2019 survey. This increased slightly during lockdown demands but is now at 7% overall in our 2022 research.  
  • More online retailers are making the most of their packaging as a branding tool – in our 2022 survey, 59% of packs featured some sort of branding compared to just 39% seven years ago.

These outcomes demonstrate the strides online retailers have been taking to improve their packaging, but highlights there’s still work for some retailers to do! It’s a challenge to tread fine line between protecting products and being perceived as wasteful when it comes to packaging materials, while delivering a great unboxing experience and managing costs.

branded packaging macfarlane packaging

The importance of branded packaging and how it affects consumer purchasing decisions

For online retailers, packaging is often the first physical experience in the customer journey, so it can create a lasting impression. This is perhaps why we’ve seen such a marked increase in branded packaging since our survey first began.

This year, our unboxing survey revealed that 41% of consumers say branded packaging enhances their unboxing experience and encourages them to buy again. This effect is even more exaggerated when you break it down by industry. People buying floristry (92%) and fashion (75%) are particularly influenced by branded packaging.

Independent research backs this up too. eDelivery report that 52% of people are more likely to purchase again from a retailer if their delivery arrives in premium packaging.

As packaging is often the largest self-owned media channel for many brands, these findings put the spotlight on why retailers need to make the most of their packaging as a marketing opportunity.

sustainability packaging

Sustainable packaging essentials and retailers taking planet positive action

Last year, we highlighted the rise of the eco-conscious consumer in our 2021 Unboxing survey results. This trend shows no sign of slowing down…

27% consumers who responded our 2022 survey said they would not buy again from retailers who aren’t using sustainable packaging. This is an 8% increase year on year. It’s now an absolute must for online retailers to take planet-positive action when it comes to packaging.

And retailers are listening.

This year 81% of respondents said their packaging was easy to recycle, up from 73% in 2021. For context, six years ago, only 50% said the packaging they received could be recycled.

Eco-friendly packaging materials are no longer just a nice to have. Consumers are starting to prioritise them, and sustainability needs to be one of the unboxing essentials for retailers moving forward.

unboxing survey 2022

Download our complete 2022 Unboxing Survey results

If you’d like to see the full results of our 2022 Unboxing Survey, why not download our unboxing report? Click here for more information.

packaging materials

Help for retailers who want to create a memorable unboxing experience with their packaging materials

If you’re an online retailer, does your packaging tick all the unboxing essentials? We recommend that to meet customer expectations, packaging must be at a minimum:

  • Able to protect your product from damages
  • Easy to open
  • Lightweight and space efficient
  • The right size for your product
  • Easy to return
  • Made from sustainable materials
  • Recyclable

If you’ve not got all these basics covered or want to improve your packaging, the Macfarlane team is here to help.

With our Packaging Optimiser and facilities like our Innovation Lab, as well as a huge range of eco-friendly packaging products, we’ve got you covered. There’s also our dedicated retail and 3PL team who are experts in delivering a memorable unboxing experience as well as optimising your packing processes. Contact us today to learn more.

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