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Haul Videos are the Canary in the Coalmine

Mom bloggers, watch out, our reign is over. It’s no secret that I left a lucrative career as an eBay seller to become a mom blogger. People asked me why I closed up shop, and I have been frank, “the recession killed it”. I went from selling high end items to selling gaylords of socks at 19 cents a piece. It wasn’t fun, and the profit margin wasn’t particularly high. Plus, the first time you get stuck with a gaylord of socks and hosiery you want to kill someone.

Fast forward to blogging. Blogging, mom blogging in particular, is fantastic in a recession because the only folks who still have budgets are the soap makers and discount stores. We saw them all jump right into “sponsorships” with moms and deals were cut. Unfortunately, in a crappy economy shops like Neimans and Barneys weren’t looking for Brand Ambassadors (though I’d still make myself available for either one).

When people have asked me how long I think Mom Blogging will last, I say, “it will last as long as the economy stinks”. The sad reality is that once the economy is better no one will care what I buy anymore. When the economy picks up the brands will go back to focusing on 18-35 year old men, and teenage girls. Teenage girls will go back to spending more on clothes, makeup and accessories than moms. Young men will have good jobs again and their tech will be better than the moms (not mine, but better than other moms).

The consumer market will return to being driven by youth, and not by experience or by seasoned shoppers. This is okay with me. There’s a great likelihood that I’ll return to being their vendor. I’m flexible.

Today’s LA Times can serve as the canary in the coal mine. Teen ‘Haulers’ become a fashion force.

Bethany started hauling about a year ago and now has more than 48,000 YouTube subscribers who tune in to watch her show off her favorite back-to-school outfits (“you don’t want to wear heels and stuff, obviously”), big-volume mascara (“this is like my new obsession”) and perfumes (“summer in a bottle right here!”).

The reality is that this makes more sense. Some of these “kids” are represented by agents right here in Beverly Hills, and others will simply enjoy shopping a little more freely. Some of them will work cheap, some will make good money. Some will disclose, others will not. I’m pretty sure the FTC won’t be picking on 14 year old girls any time soon, and if their community implodes it’s unlikely that it will be covered by mainstream press.

I’ve seen some moms doing haul videos and they seemed pitiful and staged. My reaction was either, “wow, I wonder how much TJ Maxx paid her to do this crappy video” or “why is she doing this? Her husband is going to be livid.” Haul videos are only cute when it’s your mom’s money, not when you’re the mom.

Now, I’m not saying that Mom Blogging is going to up and die because a few kids made a few videos, I’m just saying that the tides are turning. Brands won’t have to reach out to poor and struggling women any more. Because the kids have a few bucks, and I’m pretty sure they’d rather have the kids.

9 thoughts on “Haul Videos are the Canary in the Coalmine”

  1. I quit e-bay too. I miss e-bay sometimes, the ups and downs, the idiot buyers. I think many of these girls want to be iJustine and be discovered or something.

    Her shrieking hurt my ears, I had to stop at 2 minutes…

    I was going to do a closet vlog, but mostly to show what I wear, not where it’s from. Once again, another blog post sponsored by Julie’s American Express…

  2. Don’t fall for it. Women make 85% of the buying decisions in every household, rich, poor, and middle class. That’s true in any economic climate, and advertisers will always be interested in reaching them. The issue isn’t competing with haul blogs. It’s differentiating your mommy blog so that advertisers are still interested in you. Bethany is adorable, but P&G isn’t going to pay her to hock laundry detergent. Not unless it becomes a fashion statement. (Although a product manager worth his/her salt should quickly come up with something like that.)

  3. I pretty much put myself through grad school selling high-end purses on eBay. I know something bigger and better than blogging will come along and I never had any grad illusions of making a living from it because it’s never been more than a hobby with perks for me.

  4. I think she could be cute if she wasn’t so full of herself. “Was like…” I wish kids nowadays knew how to express themselves better! What cracks me up is that she clearly doesn’t need more makeup LOL! Here is hoping that my son doesn’t bring a girl like her home in 15 years…

    I love this post Jessica, you really made me think. Is blogging just going to be a fad? Writing my blog has resulted in some amazing opportunities, so even if I don’t make oodles of money with my blog, I still feel like I have the best job in the world as a writer, copyeditor, and social media consultant — and I make pretty good money with that. I guess the lesson would be to take your experience with blogging and translate it into other opportunities if companies end up using mom bloggers less in the future.

    I personally think mommy bloggers are going to get bigger and more influential for a while…

    Dagmar’s momsense

  5. I agree with Dagmar.
    This is what you have in US and that’s ‘normal’ but for me as a Scandinavian woman she’s full of herself.
    Unfortunately this kind of egoists are spreading around the globe and girls are totally lost if they are not like her.
    But as long as girls have a life of their own then this kind of princesses are no problem.
    But what kind of role model is she?
    What are her values?
    What kind of picture she gives about herself as a woman to all those guys who are staring at her?
    How any guy would think that men and women should be equal if you watch this kind of xxx ?

  6. I’m torn. I see your points, but I wonder…

    Moms still wield tremendous economic power, as “Missives” stated above. I don’t see how that changes dramatically with the economy. Sure, some corporate online marketing dollars will shift to the youth market as their online activity provides easy, affordable and effective marketing opportunities in the form of haul videos (and I’m guessing other things), but how does that render mom blogging obsolete (not that you said it would be obsolete but you did ask why companies would continue to reach to “struggling moms”) when moms are still making most of the buying decisions, especially on big ticket household items?

    Also. I’m not going to condemn this girl. She’s passionate about makeup and has a sense of humor about herself and the whole thing. What’s wrong with that? And you know what? No matter how old you are, it’s really hard not to come across as a little self-centered when “vlogging” or whatever you call it. You’re putting yourself on camera to spout your opinions, which you deem important enough to film and share (naturally and for obvious reasons taking some care to took good and glancing at yourself in the screen in front of you now and then–hard not to). This is a haul video, not the story of her life. The purpose of a haul video is to have fun sharing and discussing purchases. That’s what she’s doing. This is one part of who she is. I completely disagree with the harsh judgment of this teen.

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