Can consumers trust ‘unboxing’ videos when doing product research?

Go to a retailer that has product demonstrations that showcase anything from iPhones to appliances and you’re going to find ...

Go to a retailer that has product demonstrations that showcase anything from iPhones to appliances and you’re going to find a business with higher sales, according to Dave Woogman.

“It helps sell the product when you can visualize and can see how people are using it,” said the store manager of the London Drugs on Vancouver’s Cambie and West Broadway intersection.

But for younger generations that are veering away from brick-and-mortar shops and doing more of their shopping online, Woogman has witnessed a new trend when it comes to researching products.

“They reach out to social media, whether it’s YouTube or Facebook or whathaveyou, just to get people’s comments on what their experiences are,” he said.

And as last-minute Christmas shoppers piled into his store on December 22, Woogman said far more customers are doing their research ahead of time via YouTube compared with a decade ago when consumer reports or online reviews that simply listed specs were the standard.

“It’s a show-me thing,” he said.

“People want to confirm that they’re making a good buying decision.”

This has led to the phenomenon of “unboxing” — videos uploaded to social media that document consumers’ experiences step-by-step, as they literally take new products out of packages and review them.

“People are creating their own kind of trusted filters instead of previously where they’d have to rely on traditional media,” said Ali Adab, vice-president of content and partnerships at Vancouver-based BroadbandTV.

“That’s what’s happening on YouTube, where people are really gravitating toward personalities.”

But trusting content creators on YouTube to review products can be tricky.

Adab said many brands are looking to social media to uncover consumer behaviour as well as arrange partnerships with YouTube personalities in a bid to promote certain products that would be featured in a review.

“It’s easy to understand when something’s just a pure product placement vs. a creator who’s actually passionate about a certain product,” he said.

“You don’t want to see that really high-glossy video that’s showing the iPhone 6 in the most amazing light — you want to know what it really looks like. So a lot of times when you’re watching videos on YouTube, it’s very low-budget but people want that.”

torton@biv.com

@reporton

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