Haul or nothing

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Watching paint dry or cleaning out a lint trap of a dryer or reading a book on how to cook beets might not be the the most exciting things you could ever do but these activities still may be more titillating than watching haul videos. The weekend edition of Marketplace pondered the why and how of haul videos as well as their ever growing and baffling popularity. The oddly mocking yet blatantly promotional piece on the video phenom did it’s trick- I rushed home and watched a mind numbing amount of haul videos.

Haul videos on YouTube, if you are not aware, consist of shoppers usually young women literally showing off their latest purchases from everywhere to Sephora to Target to  Whole Foods. And then they ramble on about why they bought what they bought and how much they love it. Really. That’s it. This inane sort of infotainment fails somewhere higher than late night Gem TV but a tad lower than watching old people troll for quiche samples at your local Costco. But I get it. There is something stupidly hypnotic about people yammering on about what they picked when they went shopping. I watched an entire video of a girl named Blair (or juicystar07 as she’s known) blather about the hat she bought from Forever 21 and so did 500,000 other people.  While Blair seems like a nice enough girl, I still can’t figure out for the life of me why a half million people would watch haul videos. For now I’ll let the folks at NPR and sociologists grapple with that one.

What does interest me about haul videos is the jewels of demographic and marketing profiling that they dish out like a cafeteria does fish-sticks. The haulers and their followers via comments are essentially saying “we like to buy this and here is why”. This is genius when you think about it. How many lame focus groups and hours of surveying could we have saved in the past if we would have had a nice cross section of haul videos?  Also, the format of haul videos is one that people still seem to be responding to and it is a simple one to recreate. Normal guy or gal doing normal stuff but maybe informing us about things we didn’t know about.  Haul videos, although they are really just  trumped up versions of monotony porn,  hearken back to those old infomercials where you’re being sold things but you’re so bewilderingly entertained that you don’t really mind the pitch.

This hauling trend will surely die down like most YouTube sensations (Kelly, anyone?) but our collective obsession with online videos and natural curiosity with real people is not dissipating any time soon. Tapping into these interests and having our video content reflect a folksy and friendly that could be easily integrated into our online brand marketing plans without adopting the snooze factor of haul videos.

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