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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.