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The iPhone’s packaging still makes a big impression.
March 17, 2023

Retail Brew

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In today’s edition:

Andrew Adam Newman, Jeena Sharma, Maia Anderson


Total package: Box step

A gif of someone opening an iPhone box, specifically the moment when the top of the box clings to bottom of the box because of friction and a vacuum effect but then opens. Mrwhosetheboss/YouTube

A package protects, promotes, and sets a product apart. This series looks at how iconic packages took shape.

iPhone box

  • Introduced: 2007
  • Design concept: Apple’s internal design team

The thing about iPhone packaging nowadays is that there’s less of it. The iPhone 12, released in 2020, the first without earbuds and a wall adapter, reduced packaging by half. The iPhone 14, released in September, boasts using fiber from what Apple calls “recycled and responsible sources,” with plastic making up just 5% of the packaging, down from 7% for the iPhone 12.

Then again, iPhone boxes may be less apt to clutter up landfills because many never throw them away, with 28.3% of purchasers keeping the boxes forever, according to a 2021 9to5Mac poll. Only 8.4% dispose of or recycle them, while 59.5% keep them until they replace the phone.

Why it works: The iPhone has always been linked to anticipation. After Steve Jobs announced it on stage in 2007, it didn’t come out for six months, and when it did, long lines formed outside stores, as they have for new versions.

Designed to be opened slowly, the packaging in a way mimics that post-announcement wait. Many open an iPhone by lifting it by the box top, which fully encompasses the bottom. Then there’s a long moment until gravity overcomes a slight vacuum and surface tension and the bottom slowly descends.

Greta Dirsel, executive creative director at branding and design agency Landor & Fitch, noted in an interview with us that there’s even the slightest sound when top and bottom separate.

“We’re not popping Pringles here,” she told us. “But to me, it’s just creating anticipation and suspense.”

Keep reading here.—AAN



How to make stories work for your brand

The Crew

From Instagram to TikTok, you can’t get away from 24-hour-only posts. Check out Marketing Brew’s guide on how to get the biggest benefit from your stories.


Making a splash

Three Cynthia Rowley models wearing skiwear Cynthia Rowley

The Cynthia Rowley brand has evolved a lot over the past few years. Just a few weeks ago, for instance, the designer told us about its changing customer base and how it moved to a DTC-focused strategy.

But that’s not all that’s changed. The designer once known for its dresses and blouses is now also renowned for its surf wear and skiwear. Collaborations with brands like Roxy have also helped uplift that sporty image. It’s why products like wetsuits and ski suits are some of its top sellers, Rowley told us.

“People who know the brand from years ago, they think of us as pretty dresses,” she said. “But with things like [ski suits and wetsuits], I think things like that, just constantly thinking about the function, combined with fashion, and the innovation and things that maybe have not ever been made before…those are the things that float to the top right away, and then sometimes they stay as staples.”

Creating these staples, however, takes two to three months from the point of ideation and involves a good amount of experimenting with different fabrics, shapes, and silhouettes. For instance, one the brand’s top sellers for the past couple of years has been its bonded trousers—a proprietary fabric that it developed based on the way its wetsuits are created but more breathable and with limited-edition prints.

Rowley explained that by innovating with new materials, the retailer has helped solidify itself as a “sporty” brand and make that part of its DNA.

Another critical focus for Rowley is sustainability, which is why she has been working with clothing rental businesses like Rent the Runway. The designer is also working on producing collections with smaller quantities and then “replenishing” based on demand because, Rowley said, “there’s no excess, there’s no waste, things don’t sit around, nothing gets dumped.”

Keep reading here.—JS



Unjust deserts

A ranch style building depicting an independent pharmacy Sanfel/Getty Images

“In some parts of the US, it seems no matter where you look, you can find a Walgreens, CVS, or Rite Aid. But many neighborhoods still lack convenient access to a pharmacy. These areas are called ‘pharmacy deserts,’ but unlike actual deserts, they’re all over the US,” writes Healthcare Brew’s Maia Anderson:

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) play a big role in pharmacy closures. They create pharmacy networks for insurers, which direct patients to visit specific pharmacies. Often, the closest pharmacy in a pharmacy desert is an independent pharmacy rather than a chain—and that independent pharmacy is often not part of pharmacy networks.

Read the whole story here on Healthcare Brew.



Today’s top retail reads.

New generation: Move over, logos. Luxury brands from Burberry to Salvatore Ferragamo are increasingly adopting certain motifs or colors as their new identifiers. (Vogue Business)

Forever and always: Retailers committed to offering products that last a lifetime are now offering extensive repair programs, or even lifetime warranties, as a proof of their commitment. (Thingtesting)

Planning ahead: Companies like Macy’s and Target are turning to tried and tested recession strategies like bulking up on household essentials and discounting more strategically to prepare for a challenging year. (CNBC)

Docs for days: The collection of documentaries on Curiosity Stream has every other streaming service beat. With countless topics and new shows added every week, there’s entertainment for every interest. Get 25% off your subscription.* 

Three steps forward: If you wanna reach shoppers, now’s the time to act. We partnered with Bolt to lay out the 3 things e-commerce brands need to be doing right now. Watch the video.*

*This is sponsored advertising content.


  • Zara owner Inditex’s US profits were up; China was the only region where its profits fell.
  • Dollar General missed Wall Street estimates as consumers pulled back on spending.
  • Amazon is being sued for allegedly not informing customers of its facial recognition tech in its New York store.
  • Bed Bath & Beyond is not paying severance to workers at some of its recently closed stores, according to Bloomberg.


Three of the stories below are real...and one is most definitely not. Can you spot the fake?

  1. Coors Light is launching Coors-icles, a new line of beer-flavored popsicles.
  2. Cadbury will shift 20% of its business from chocolate making to whiskey production.
  3. An Illinois man has sued Buffalo Wild Wings for selling chicken breast meat as boneless wings, claiming it’s “false advertising.”
  4. Van Leeuwen has debuted a new Hidden Valley Ranch flavored ice-cream.

Keep reading for the answer.


A Cadbury chocolate-inspired whiskey is…not happening, sorry. But wouldn’t that be nice?


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Written by Andrew Adam Newman, Jeena Sharma, and Maia Anderson

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