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Psychology behind why people can’t bring themselves to throw away empty Apple boxes

Psychology behind why people can’t bring themselves to throw away empty Apple boxes

iPhone and MacBook boxes are so beautifully designed - and there's a reason why we keep them around.

It's one of those things that you might think is a personal preference or one of your little foibles, until you're suddenly told that loads of people do the exact same thing.

Keeping the product packaging for Apple devices, whether they're iPhones, iPads or MacBooks, is actually a really common approach after buying something new from the tech giant.

For decades, its products have had really satisfying boxes that slide nicely closed - meaning we tend to hold on to them, even though we rarely touch them again.

John Keeble / Contributor / Getty

After all, even if you're good at keeping things in great condition and aim to trade your devices in after a couple of years, the benefit of having the original packaging is really slim, and most people won't ever need the boxes again.

For MacBooks and bigger items, they're also really quite chunky and even a little heavy, so it begs the question - why do we keep them?

A fascinating blog post from business writer Trung Phan goes into a lot of detail on just this subject.

He digs out plenty of evidence for how Apple has managed to make people so attached to its packaging over the years - thanks to Steve Jobs and Apple's head designer, Jony Ive, really appreciating the value of good packaging.

They saw that iPhone boxes, across generations, were sleek and satisfying to unpack, and sturdy enough to make people think it could be useful to keep it.

Apparently Apple takes packaging so seriously that it owns patents for its boxes. As Phan points out, that friction as you open an iPhone box, and the whoosh of air as you do so, are both the result of careful design and deliberate air pockets inside the box.

PATRICK T. FALLON / Contributor / Getty

Apple reportedly even has a dedicated room where employees try out new packaging ideas to see if they're as satisfying as is required, all these years later.

So, if the psychology from our point of view seems clear - the box is so lovely, we're reluctant to part with it - this also suggests that there is a clear philosophy at Apple HQ on this topic.

It's a company that has deliberately elevated packaging so that it stands basically shoulder-to-shoulder with the product itself as part of the overall experience, and that has undoubtedly brought it great success over the years.

Featured Image Credit: Justin Sullivan / Staff / John Keeble / Contributor / Getty