Retailers Look to Increase Shopping Hauls

Aug 15, 2012

In past RetailWire coverage of haul videos — the act by which consumers go shopping and then share their purchases on sites such as YouTube — polls and discussion points on the site were clear on two things:

  1. These videos represent an opportunity for merchants and brands to gain attention and, in turn, achieve sales gains.
  2. Retailers looking to cash-in on the opportunity need to tread carefully when it comes to attempting to influence haul video makers and content.

Haul videos are popular viewing on YouTube. According to ABC News, roughly 150,000 such videos are currently on the site and some have views running in the millions.

"We have some haul videos that compare to major cable channels in views," Shishir Mehrotra, director of product management at YouTube, told ABC.

As previously reported on RetailWire, some of the makers of haul videos have found the exercise to be financially rewarding with retailers providing them with incentives in goods and shopping cards. American Eagle, Forever 21, J.C. Penney and Urban Outfitters have all attempted to use haul videos to create buzz around new seasonal apparel collections.

YouTube has also gotten into the act. According to Mr. Mehrotra, the YouTube Partner Program pays some individuals to make videos and gives them a cut of ad revenue.

"We have hundreds of partners that make over $1,000 a month, and we have several that are making six figures and really are supporting a living off of YouTube," he told ABC.

[Image: Haul video]

Discussion Questions: What are the keys to producing strong haul videos? Should retailers, directly or indirectly, get involved in haul videos?

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12 Comments on "Retailers Look to Increase Shopping Hauls"

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Steve Montgomery

There is no question that consumers, especially younger consumers, have more faith in product information from their friends and peers than they do from the manufacturers or retailers. However, as the latter move to work with the influencers to develop and produce these videos, that distinction is going to get lost.

When someone making haul videos can earn six figures a year from the retailer and or the manufacturer, then they are a paid spokesperson and will lose their ability to influence other potential buyers.

Liz Crawford

Indirect involvement seems the only way to keep the videos authentic — which is a large part of the appeal. Indirect involvement could include opportunities to buy on the bottom of the screen (I saw opportunities to buy shoes during the haul videos I saw, but the haul did not include any shoe purchases). Another approach is to show the clothes being worn on models, or with an uploaded picture of the viewer. Play value will be part of the value-add in these interactions.

Gene Hoffman
Gene Hoffman
5 years 2 months ago

The key to producing haul videos is an interested society with an insatiable appetite to talk and act technologically. That situation is omnipresent today, so haul videos will not only continue to proliferate, but also become more productive.

Retailer involvement should be indirect or through customers since believability rests more with peers than purveyors.

Ken Lonyai

Haul videos are a sad commentary on the priorities of our society given the number of financially suffering people — especially when they are made by teens. So, if a brand or retailer shares my view on the subject and wants to take the high road and steer clear of promoting blatant conspicuous consumption, they don’t need my advice. It won’t stop the “videographers” that choose to include their products anyway.

For other brands that simply want promotion and are looking at every possible channel, gentle, nudging might prove fruitful. For example, a contest for the best haul video or donating the cost of (their) goods featured in a video to charity. Otherwise, by choosing direct remuneration, above board compensation will likely come across as payola and under-the-table encouragement runs the risk of an unpleasant future disclosure. I wonder what the FTC interpretation might be as well.

Max Goldberg

A good haul video features a believable host talking in the native speak of his/her age group in an emotionally appealing manner. It shouldn’t be too long, but should offer enough detail to provide information.

As in the world of the blogosphere, haul hosts should disclose if they received free or discounted merchandise from retailers.

Retailers need to tread carefully. They should encourage full disclosure from haul hosts and not try to make a haul video into a infomercial for their stores. If handled lightly, haul videos can be an effective advertising tool for retail brands.

Zel Bianco

This form of guerrilla marketing seems to work in favor of retailers. I believe the largest key to producing haul videos is sincerity and integrity. If the videos do not portray the personality of the real shopper sharing the purchases made, it would be a negative. These haul videos are not a place for commercials or ads — they should consist of honest customer feedback and comments only. And because of this, I believe that retailers should not be involved directly or indirectly. And don’t underestimate the power of video on YouTube — it is powerful.

Brian Numainville

While certainly the opinions of peers are influential to younger shoppers, I question whether what amounts to a paid advertisement will work the same way, especially with an unknown peer. But indirect involvement by the retailer is the greatest way to make this more likely to succeed (but less transparent at the same time). And just because it is using YouTube doesn’t mean it will be automatically be a home run, but at least the game is being played in the right ballpark.

Adrian Weidmann

Authentic and genuine. Shoppers will know immediately when they are being manipulated. It is clear that shoppers want to be a valued part of a community in order to share their ‘surprise and delight’ with others. Any brand that tries to crash this party with manipulative marketing will be discovered and punished. Marketers need to remember that telling a genuine heartfelt story is still the most effective. The art of storytelling is the key; though not easy to do, good storytelling will always reach people emotionally.

Ralph Jacobson

Retailers AND CPG brands do need to tread lightly here. Any insincere/ disingenuous participation will backfire on the brand (the retailer brand, too).

Intelligent social listening helps guide brands in any online activity, whether it’s these haul videos, or whatever channels you’re engaging.

The most successful videos are those that contain a perky hostess (or even male host, btw) with products that are readily available to the general public on a national basis.

Kenneth Leung

I can see putting ads over Haul videos that positively include your brand. I don’t see influencing haul videos working any more than efforts to influence the “mommy bloggers” did. Too much perceived corporate inclusion reduces the authenticity and the effectiveness of the medium.

Cathy Hotka

It would be smart for retailers to send merchandise to bloggers, who can then brag about how great the merch is. Millennials pay attention to this kind of media much more than newspapers, and the cost is almost nil.

Mark Burr
5 years 2 months ago

I believe that if you look back, this sort of video began as cultish, sort of like those getting their daily item from At the very least, usage of stimulated its popularity.

The Woot videos were fun. This particular “Haul” video shown is just (for lack of a better word) idiotic. It is just pure and simple self-indulgence for no particular purpose. In that light, it’s a useless if not scary view into the mind set of those producing them. It may or many not be emblematic of a generation. If so, it is disturbing to say the least.

If a retailer wishes to do self promotional videos on YouTube, that is one thing. I can’t, however, think of one single purpose or usage of time for the example.

Evidently there is much more to learn about the generational attraction to such mindless, self-indulgent activity. And, to be paid for it? Geesh!


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