The Psychology Behind Why We Just Can’t Throw Away Those Sleek Apple Boxes

Apple is renowned for its premium product design, but it turns out that thoughtful approach extends right down to its packaging – and it has a startling effect on consumer behavior. A fascinating deep dive has revealed the surprising reasons why so many people hold onto their empty iPhone, iPad and MacBook boxes.

The research, by business writer Trung Phan, highlights how Apple has elevated its packaging design to be an integral part of the overall product experience over many years. This is no accident – Apple’s legendary leader Steve Jobs and chief designer Jony Ive saw the potential for boxes to make a lasting impression.

Phan points out several key aspects of Apple’s box design:

  • The way iPhone boxes slide closed with a satisfying friction and whoosh of expelled air
  • Sturdy, high quality materials that make the box feel like it could be repurposed
  • A minimalist aesthetic that perfectly matches the sleek devices inside
  • Consistent unboxing experiences across product generations

Apple is so obsessed with perfecting its boxes that it owns patents on them and has a dedicated packaging design room at Apple HQ where employees test out new box concepts. The goal is to make unboxing an Apple product feel like an exciting event.

This attention to detail has a real impact on consumer psychology. While many would assume people keep boxes to increase resale value, the real reasons often have more to do with emotional attachment. The boxes are simply too nice to throw away.

“They are so elegant and well made they feel too good to throw away and one or two have been repurposed for storage purposes,” says a Reddit user.

“I consider all these boxes to be trash and I throw them out. I would only recommend keeping the boxes for the apple monitors, as they are large and awkwardly shaped and difficult to pack,” counters another user, who works as a professional packer.

Some have found clever ways to repurpose the boxes to assuage their guilt over keeping them. “I use them inside cupboards / desk drawers to hold small items: paper clips/ erasers/ anything that I don’t want scattered. Contain them.”

Still, others only keep them for a certain time period. “I keep all product boxes for the duration of the return or exchange period. How fast I throw them out after that depends on the size,” explains one user.

A prime reason people keep boxes is to increase resale value when they upgrade devices. Including the original box can net sellers an extra $20-40 typically. There’s even a secondary market for just the boxes themselves.

However, as devices are kept longer, move to cloud storage, and trade-in programs have expanded, the resale rationale may be weakening, especially for smaller devices.

“I lost my iPhone (1st Gen) while travelling and I recently found the original empty box at home. I managed to sell it for €100 on eBay,” shares one Reddit user, highlighting the value boxes can retain.

Regardless of why people keep them, it’s clear Apple’s boxes have wormed their way into customers’ hearts and minds in a way few other companies have managed.

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