Saturday, November 5, 2011

American shopping video craze takes Scotland by storm


TEENAGE shopaholics have sparked a revolution in the fashion world... by posting web videos showing off their High Street bargains.
Young "haulers" are uploading clips of themselves showing offclothes they have just bought and the massive internet craze has already spread from the US to Scotland.
The girls model their buys on YouTube for friends and fashion-conscious fans.
Major retailers are also watching and have started contacting the girls, giving them free merchandise in the hope they will make tapes endorsing their products.
YouTube revealed "hauling" can also prove a money-spinner for successful girls.
A spokeswoman said: "It is one of the fastest-growing categories on YouTube with more than 200,000 videos.
"We are seeing people share their latest cosmetic buys - and even their groceries - with the world. It's clear marketing and PR experts are cashing in."
Making videos can also be lucrative. Haulers and other users who join YouTube's partner programme can get a cut of the profits from ads that run with their videos.
Two of the most famous haulers are Elle and Blair Fowler, sisters from Tennessee, who have turned their celebrity YouTube status into a successful career.
The girls have featured in magazines, including Marie Claire, appeared on TV and recently hired an agent and publicist.
Elle, 22, and Blair, 17, were also recruited to star in back-to-school campaigns for two huge American companies and are creating a signature make-up collection.
Now the internet phenomenon is crossing the Atlantic and looks set to become a smash among the clothes conscious here.
One of the first to jump on the bandwagon is 17-year-old Mel Burt, from Kinross, Perthshire, who started hauling about six months ago.
She already boasts hundreds of dedicated followers to her Human Wreckage Channel who hang on every tip and suggestion. As often as once a week, Mel sets up a video camera in her bedroom and records herself and her purchases.
She has chatted about music festival essentials, best fake tan and foundation.
Her most recent was a four-minute clip discussing a "haul" from high street chain Jane Norman.
Mel revealed: "They are having a sale so my mum and I decided to take full advantage. We only bought two things from the sale and the rest were full price."
She goes on to show offitems including a £9 white batwing jumper and £27 denim cut-offshorts.
Mel said: "There is the occasional time here in Scotland when it does get hot and you realise all you have are clothes for winter as it is normally freezing here."
Mel goes on to show offa red halter-neck top and jewellery bargains.
Haulers normally talk about bargains, discounts, colour and style. Most clips are around 10 minutes but some can last from just a few seconds up to 20 minutes.
There are more than 110,000 haul videos on YouTube, with 60 having received more than 100,000 views.
Schoolgirl Bethany Mota boasts one of the most watched channels in the US after starting hauling about a year ago.
The 14-year-old, f rom Los Banos, California, now has more than 48,000 followers who hang on her every word.
As often as three times a week, she sets up a video camera from her Paris-themed bedroom and records herself.
It takes about a day to film and edit the footage, which is then uploaded under the user name Macbarbie07.
Her most-watched haul - on spring and summer fashions - has attracted almost 100,000 views. Bethany said: "You get to connect with girls around the world and that's what reeled me in. YouTube videos are more personal and more real than a TV commercial."
A successful haul video can quickly amass hundreds of thousands of views.
Earlier this year, one American hauler reviewed her new watch.
Within 24 hours, it sold out in every colour and the firm's website crashed.
Bethany is regularly lavished with gifts including cosmetics, make-up brushes and even a hairdryer.
Last month she and five other US haulers were f lown to Texas by major retailer JC Penney.
Each girl was given $1000 dollars to spend in the department store's back-to-school selection.
After the shopping spree, the girls recorded haul videos which were posted on the company website plus Facebook and YouTube. JC Penney chief marketing officer Mike Boylson said: "It's the perfect marriage of two of Generation Y's favourite things - technology and shopping.
"Marketers have to realise they're truly not in control. More and more, this idea of consumers as publishers is huge."
Other companies have cottoned on to the idea and now hold haul video contests, offering gift cards for the best.
Marketing expert Eli Portnoy revealed: "The bottom line is it's marketing for less.
"What better way to reach your customers than from what seems to be independent voices saying 'I love these products and I love these stores'?" To protect her safety, Bethany's parents monitor her channel and comments, watch her videos and forbid her from giving out any personal information online.
To watch Mel's haul videos, go to v=lmd3U3ovfp.

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