Clothing Haul Videos Hit YouTube, Lead To Rising Retail Sales

YouTubeRetailA series of "haul" videos continue to emerge on YouTube highlighting prices and products at a variety of stores, just in time for back-to-school sales. These clips -- which show girls sharing and describing recent product buys, along with ads and other content -- will influence 57% of apparel purchases this year, according to a recent study.

Searches for "back to school" on YouTube are already trending higher this year compared with last. They're up 23% from 2011, although the peak actually hits mid-August. Searches on Google are also higher than last year, up 40%. Searches continue to grow year-on-year since 2010, but 2009 saw a slight spike, potentially due to economic pressure.

Vera Bradley and Pottery Barn Teen have been running back-to-school YouTube promotions and have created themed channels running TrueView ads, which only cost the companies if someone watches more than 30 seconds of the ad, against back-to-school-related searches.

Todd Pollak, industry director for retail at Google, said these videos continue to grow in popularity. He said savvy shoppers tend to spend more money. He points to a Google study released Friday that finds videos such as hauls drive 37% of consumers to shop online and 44% in brick-and-mortar stores. Not only clips on YouTube, but also retail stores like Saks Fifth Avenue. 

It turns out that consumers using video to research products and services spend a higher amount on purchases more frequently. Some 25% of consumers using video to research products purchased more than six times the apparel in the past six months, compared with 16% who don't use video. About 28% of video researchers spent more than $500 on apparel in the past six months, compared with 2% who don't use video.

Consumers ranging in ages from 18 to 34 are more than two times as likely to rely on video to decide the company to purchase from, compared with 35- to-54-year-olds at 13% and 55 or older, at 16%. The same age groups are 38%, 27%, and 32%, respectively, more likely to visit a store that sells the apparel after viewing a video.

Since apparel shoppers like to window shop, more than one in four purchases result from impulse. Seventy-three percent pointed to a good deal as the deciding factor. Others cite wearing the latest trends, free shipping, and redemption of gift cards. Not surprisingly, 13% said they added more to the basket to meet a minimum free shipping requirement.

Offline advertising on TV and billboards or in newspapers and magazines fuels online research. Some 32% of consumers took one day to research products, 34% took between one and seven days, 15% took seven to 14 days, and 18% took more than two weeks.

All categories of apparel show sales growth, but dresses demonstrate the highest percentage at 131% year-on-year. Kid's clothes follow at 125%, outerwear at 113%, men's apparel at 123% and women's at 96%.

More than 1 in 4 apparel shoppers purchase products on a mobile phone after using their phone to shop in the store. Many retailers still make it difficult to complete that transaction by asking new consumers to the site to sign up before making a purchase on the small screen. Retailers need to reduce the clicks it takes to make a purchase on a mobile phone, or risk the consumer closing the browser and moving on.

It's well documented that mobile devices have become shopping assistants. Some 56% compare prices, 44% look for promotions or coupons, 42% read reviews, 38% search inventory, 16% scan a barcode, and 13% contact the business by calling.

Although making a purchase on a mobile phone can become cumbersome, the Google study found that 26% ultimately purchased the product after researching it on their phone in the store.

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