Can Teen 'Haulers' Save the Retail Industry?

A new force has entered the YouTube fray: “haulers,” a young, tech-savvy bunch of teenagers who exhibit their latest purchases—from back-to-school clothes to jewelry and makeup—via homemade online videos. Take Bethany Mota, a 14-year-old teenager who started posting videos of her clothing, mascara, and perfume purchases a year ago and now has more than 48,000 YouTube subscribers. “You get to connect with girls around the world, and that’s what reeled me in,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “YouTube videos, they’re more personal and more real than a commercial on TV.” Retailers like JCPenney and Marshalls are following the hauler phenomenon closely, too. “It’s the perfect marriage of two of Gen Y’s favorite things: technology and shopping,” a chief marketing officer at JCPenney said. “Marketers have to realize that they’re truly not in control. More and more, this idea of consumers as publishers is huge.” As one of the fastest growing YouTube trends—there are more than 200,000 videos of hauls on the site, according to a spokesperson—it may suggest a shift of marketing power to consumers.