Mobile commerce startup Packagd on Thursday unveiled its first application, Unboxed, a mobile video channel aimed at selling technology gadgets by leveraging the growing Internet phenomenon of “unboxing” videos and aggregating them in one app, according to a company press release.
Packagd backed up the notion that many people watching such videos are researching their own future product purchases, linking in its press release to a three-year-old study from Google Consumer Surveys that suggested 62% of consumers who watched unboxing videos on YouTube did so as they conducted research in advance of making a product purchase. The same survey said that the number of such videos uploaded at the time had increased by 50% over the previous year, and that video viewings had increased by 57%.
Also on Thursday, the company announced a $6 million Series A investment led by Forerunner Ventures and GV (formerly Google Ventures). Packgd was co-founded by CEO Eric Feng, formerly CTO at Hulu and Flipboard, and also a general partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, where Packagd was incubated.
Packagd’s Unboxed is already getting a lot of comparisons to QVC and the Home Shopping Network, those odd denizens of early cable TV years that somehow not only survived, but thrived.
Even Packagd thinks so, as Feng name-checked both in the press release that ushered the company out of stealth mode last week. "Our vision for Packagd has evolved over the last 10 years, inspired by how 'commerce as entertainment' helped traditional players like HSN and QVC build multi-billion dollar empires during the TV era," Feng said. "Using video to drive commerce is not a new concept, but Packagd has the opportunity to bring this user experience to a new generation of mobile consumers."
The comparisons to QVC and HSN are a shortcut to understanding Packagd's Unboxed app, but unboxing is a much more recent cultural phenomenon. While these videos are very much about product promotion, they're structured a bit more like instructional and demonstration videos and give (almost always 100% positive) product reviews, although the videos do not usually feature the makers of the products hawking their own wares.
Originally, not that many unboxing videos had clear involvement from the product brands featured, though the New York Times reported in late 2015 that product brands and retailers such as Target were getting much more involved. More recently, Walmart has been brushing up against the unboxing video trend, as it has created more marketing videos to run on YouTube.
The popularity of unboxing videos is staggering: As a segment, unboxing videos attract as many as 10 billion views per month. Ryan’s Toy Review, for example, in which a five-year-old boy is egged on by his mother to enthusiastically unbox various new toys, collected almost 175 million views during one recent week.
The trend may not need much help from an aggregator, but product brands and retailers likely won't complain about new ways to have their products featured. Packagd's app will provide an organized venue dedicated to promoting new tech gadgets, giving consumers interested in such things one clear destination to seek out and further driving gadget sales overall. For makers of gadgets, or retailers that sells them, what's not to like?