Prospecting: J.C. Penney Uses Haul Videos to Engage Back-to-School Shoppers
● A new phenomenon called "haul videos," short product review videos where video bloggers (vloggers) show off their new swag to the whole world, is an important part of mega-retailer J.C. Penney's back-to-school marketing campaign this year.
To lure prospective and current teens into their stores in this key season, J.C. Penney worked with six haulers from a variety of ages, backgrounds and areas of the country. Earlier this summer, each was provided with two $500 gift certificates to use at a Lewisville, Tex., J.C. Penney store that had been outfitted with back-to-school merchandise early. Haulers from other parts of the country were flown in and given accommodations by the retailer.
After shopping, they were encouraged to create haul videos that would be posted online at jcp.com/teen. The first video was posted on July 15, and a new one will be posted each week through September 7. The videos are also posted on J.C. Penney's Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube channel and back-to-school mobile site.
J.C. Penney is urging its haul vloggers to be honest with their opinions in the videos. Kate Coutas, a J.C. Penney spokesperson, said, "in all the videos, the haulers disclose that J.C. Penney provided them a gift card to shop their store."
Hauls are a growing phenomenon. Currently there are more than 159,000 of them posted on YouTube, and some are racking up tens of millions of views. Another retailer that's incorporated haul videos into its back-to-school marketing plans is American Eagle, which tweets and posts messages on its Facebook page encouraging consumers to check out or post hauls on the AE website. — Melissa Campanelli