Watching video product reviews on YouTube is a common way of finding basic product information on goods people are interested in buying. YouTubers upload tons of review videos in diverse forms, but it is the ‘haul videos’ that have aroused public interest as an evolved and hip form of these consumption videos. In a haul product review, video makers collect a bunch of similar products, unwrap them, and give their first impressions in front of the camera. The review is no different than other review videos. The key is that a bunch of products appear in one video. The term haul normally refers the amount of fish caught in one net when it comes to ocean science or fishing. However, for our video shoppers, a haul is ‘all the products purchased by someone during one shopping outing’.
Haul videos, in general, deal with fashion and makeup, but the topic can extend to stationary goods, furniture, or groceries from Costco. The reason haul videos are widely made is because they can be an effective shopping guide. Three keywords for haul videos are season, travel, and brands. Videos released right before a new season and work as look books. Those uploaded right after the producer came back from a trip go viral as must-buy shopping lists for that particular destination. Haul videos focusing on a specific brand give general information about the brand. For instance, beauty YouTuber Ssin released a series of haul video for each Korean drugstore brand. As she reviewed a handful of products made by one brand, she unintentionally evaluated the brand by larger segments than just a product, telling her subscriber which brand provides the best mascara and which brand you would not want to include in your foundation routine. Such information is usually attained by several experience accumulated, spending money and time.
|▲ Piled boxes bring secondhand satisfaction to luxury haul fans.|
The reason why people watch haul videos is quite similar to why people make them. Haul videos shows the average quality of products sold by specific brands or regions. Moreover, they give subscribers the secondhand thrills of a shopping spree, who get to see the lengthy receipts and boxed piled up.
Content related to luxury brands started appearing on YouTube in roughly 2010, but the luxury brand haul trend only started when the famous American YouTuber Jeffree Star uploaded his first luxury brand haul video in September 2016. The video, named “Gucci Haul”, gained up to 5.1 million views to date. Other luxury haul videos uploaded by Jeffree Star have at least 2 million views or above. Even though the viewers’ reactions are mixed, most fans support his “YOLO (You Only Live Once)” and “I spend my money how I want” mentality.
|▲ Haul video creators list the amount of money they spend on their video titles.|
This trend quickly spread within the beauty community with famous YouTubers from other countries following suit. There are even some channels that focus solely on luxury brands, calling it ‘the luxury community’. These channels are usually targeted towards fashion enthusiasts. Some members of this community have even partnerships with marketing services like StyleHaul. One of them is ‘Fancy Vlogs by Gab’, a vlog channel managed by American YouTuber Gabriella Demartino’s Live, which includes several videos about luxury “shopping spree” and luxury hauls. These videos have at least 80 thousand to a million views on average. In South Korea, beauty YouTubers like Hanbyul and Lena joined the bandwagon and uploaded luxury hauls in late 2017 as well, even mentioning in the titles or previews the amount they spent, which ranges around 8 – 15 million Korean won. (approx. 7400 – 14000 USD)
The creators share this kind of content as it is not commonly talked about and because this is new and interesting information that might attract new viewers. It also serves as informative content for those that are genuinely interested in luxury brand products. Through videos like these, people get to see items in action before purchasing it themselves. It helps them determine the quality of products, without spending money trying everything themselves. Viewers also get to enjoy the thrill of shopping, without burning a hole in their own wallets.
There are normally two different reactions to luxury haul videos. People who are satisfied, say that watching luxury haul solves their curiosity regarding these kind of products. They normally shy away from shopping in luxury brands stores because of the price, but through these videos they can get pricing information and learn more about what the products look and feel through the video with creator’s detailed descriptions. It gives everyone a chance to know more about luxury products. Moreover, people who want to or plan to buy luxury products but haven’t decided which one to buy can get realistic information about their planned purchased before making a commitment to buy. When a product is very expensive, people often look for more data or comments available on products before making a purchase. In this situation, a luxury haul video review is the most convenient form of product assessment. People watch haul videos because they include shopping tips attained from the personal experience of the video-maker.
Luxury haul videos give watchers the satisfaction of having bought the products without spending any money. This called the secondhand effect. People who are unable to buy luxury items, resolve their desires by watching others unbox their haul.
|▲ Comments under Fancy Vlogs by Gab and Jeffreestar.|
On the other hand, some say luxury haul videos can cause others frustration because it looks like the video maker is showing off, especially since they normally include how much they have spent buying the products in the video’s title. If you search luxury haul on YouTube, the first video title you see is labelled ’80million dollar luxury haul’. The provocative title arouses the interest of people and more often than not, leads them to watching it. However, such titles can also make people feel like they are failures. For most people, 80 million is more money than they have had in their lifetime.
|▲ Some people feel frustrated looking at YouTubers spending the amount of money that others might not had for lifetime.|
Another complaint is that creating luxury haul contents is only possible for people born rich. Individuals who are actually rich enough to spend money on luxury hauls are the only people who can make these kinds of videos. Some say rich kids can easily make money by uploading luxury haul videos.
The luxury haul goods community can definitely be seen as one of the fastest growing platforms on YouTube. However, as of now viewers’ are still split when it comes to the necessity of these types of product review videos. Some might think it is unnecessary to share and show off, while others find the reviews helpful or just fun to watch. Regardless of its reputation, haul videos, especially luxury haul videos, are still being created and uploaded daily. We can definitely see it having a long run in the YouTube beauty community and might even expand further to influence other communities and platforms as well.
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