The back to school season is big business with a recent projection of the National Retail Federation expecting spend to reach $80.3 billion.  Spending is expected to go up by 14%. However, 85% of families say that the economy will impact how, when and where they shop. Consumers are delaying purchases, seeking online deals and mobile to get the best deal. So it’s a season of “doing your homework” to get the best deals and focusing on “needs versus wants”.  Take a look at the infographic and podcast  from National Retail Federation for more details.

I took a quick look at Brand Mentions to see what is driving the conversation on back-to-school and if their any conversations that were standing out. Beyond a few sponsored campaign, what really stood out was the shopping hauls on youtube.

Haul videos showcase a shoppers purchases in minute detail. Most of the videos feature the where, how much and why of each purchase. These haul videos are not just entertainment but can drive spending. A recent study  from Google highlights the importance of video to shopping decisions, especially with millennials :

  • 4 in 10 shoppers visited a store online or in-person as a direct result of watching a video online
  • Nearly 1 in 3 shoppers use YouTube to shop for apparel
  • Thirty-four percent of apparel shoppers are more likely to purchase after viewing an online video ad, versus 16% after watching an ad on TV.
  • Millennials (aged 18-34) are twice as likely than other age groups to rely on a video to decide which company to purchase from, and are regularly turning to YouTube for shopping advice.
  • There are nearly 600,000 shopping “haul” videos on YouTube, more than 35,000 of which were uploaded within the last month alone

The audiences of back-to-school haul videos are large with the videos reaching millions. The haul video creators offer a mix of over the top shopping voyerism and girl next door how to look good on a budget pragmatism.

Meredith at   is like the shopping buddy you wish you had as a teen and she has a good eye for deals.  She offers her audience a look at what the cool kids might be wearing and how to have fun on a budget with your shopping choices. There is a lot of focus on price and tips on how to use the shopping finds.  Her videos are engaging and interactive (i.e., tell me what you think about these shoes?).

Views: 14,908,823
Subscribers: 178,153
A recent back to school shopping haul:
Beautybaby44 knows how to shop and as a few of the viewiers mentioned in the comments she seems to have some cash to spend. There is a more aspirational versus everyday teen vibe to her videos but she delivers on a lot of trendy finds to her big audience.  
Channel: Beautybaby44
Views: 107,998,349
Subscribers: 171,653 
Her back to school haul video:
My top takeaways :
  • Hauler videos make it clear that one of the funnest parts of shopping is the sharing part . Tap into the desire to share by making it easy and even rewarding for those that share. Look at things like a leader board and sharing top picks from your community on your social networks.
  • Back to school shopping is really a more grown-up version of dress up. Shoppers are playing around with looks and spend a lot of time creating outfits and looks. Look at ways to help shoppers create a personal “look book” and plan out outfits.
  •  A constant theme in these videos is  “it adds pop to a plain outfit”.  Consider how to deliver “snack size” style tips online and in the store to spur purchase, especially around accessories.
  • A good find was often defined as a lot of style for the price versus just being on sale. Well priced and/or aggressively discounting some of the trendy items might be a good way to attract these shoppers.
  • Understand that their is a lot of anxiety involved in back to school shopping. A lot of comments involve stress around back to school and request for more videos like what’s in your back pack. Create “chill moments’ for your shoppers like a chill lounge, “stop stressing” campaign  and/or a on the spot mini spa treatment. Offer checklist and other be ready type of info for shoppers.
  • Shoppers are sharing what they think is “cool” and giving a lot of feedback on price and quality in these videos. Add watching hauler videos to your insight/marketing departments to do list.
  • Your super fans are creating content about you and you need to leverage that. Make to sure to start identifying your fans and look at ways to reward (fashion spreads with top haulers instead of models) and engage them in your creative process and planning.
  • Your target is watching hauler videos, these videos are getting major views.  Look at adding YouTube campaigns and video ads to your marketing mix.
I see a lot of potential in using hauler video creators to help develop insights to drive business decisions. I say get on youtube and start searching. Seen a good hauler video?
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