Brands

‘Haul’ Videos, Popular on TikTok, Are Getting Gen Zers to Whip Out Their Wallets

Nearly two-thirds of Gen Zers, meanwhile, enjoy engaging with “storytime” and “fun fact” content online, per a new Morning Consult survey

Among Gen Zers, 45% said they have purchased clothing because an influencer or celebrity sponsored it, according to Morning Consult data. (Unsplash, Getty Images / Morning Consult artwork by Anna Davis)

Gen Zers are no longer a mere fascination: They now wield serious purchasing power and cultural capital as they put their imprints on the global economy. Morning Consult surveyed Americans between the ages of 13 and 25 about their media tastes and habits, relationships with brands and interest in sports in order to better understand where, exactly, the youngest adult generation is now taking us.

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The explosive growth of ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok has ignited a short-form video showdown between the major social media platforms, with each racing to develop unique editing and viewing features. 

While most industry experts are convinced of the format’s popularity, some questions still linger: What video content do young people — the most prolific social media users — like most? Even more important for brands, from what video content are those consumers actually purchasing? 

A new Morning Consult survey of Americans between the ages of 13 and 25 offers answers. 

Sixty-four percent of Gen Zers said they enjoy engaging with “storytime” videos (where a creator details a story from an event or situation), and 62% said the same of “fun fact” videos (where a creator provides an interesting piece of information about a topic).

Meanwhile, “haul” videos (where a creator shows products they purchased, sometimes from a single brand) are the most likely to drive Gen Z purchase behavior, as roughly 2 in 5 (42%) said they have bought a product shown in such a video.

Gen Z Enjoys ‘Storytime,’ ‘Fun Fact’ Videos Significantly More Than Other Types

U.S. Gen Zers were asked to what extent they enjoy engaging with, and whether or not they have purchased a product shown in, the following types of online video content:

Survey conducted Nov. 2-8, 2022, among a representative sample of 1,000 U.S. Gen Zers between the ages of 13 and 25, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-3 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

“Haul” videos are most likely to drive Gen Z purchases

  • More than half of Gen Zers (55%) also said they enjoy “nostalgia” videos (where a creator discusses products, brands or experiences from their past), further evidence of the generation’s infatuation with all things throwback.  
  • “Get ready with me” videos (where a creator talks to the camera as they get ready for an event) and “routine” videos (where a creator shows a particular routine, such as a morning routine or a workout routine) are popular product discovery channels, too — nearly a third of Gen Zers said they have purchased an item from each. 
Female Gen Zers Are Driving Most Purchases of Influencer-Sponsored Products

The shares of respondents who said they have purchased the following types of products because they were sponsored by an influencer or celebrity:

Survey conducted Nov. 2-8, 2022, among a representative sample of 1,000 U.S. Gen Zers between the ages of 13 and 25, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-3 percentage points.

But male Gen Zers lead the way on books and games, electronics

  • Forty-five percent of Gen Zers said they have purchased clothing because an influencer or celebrity sponsored it, while 43% said the same of books and games. Male Gen Zers were more likely to purchase books and games (48%) than female Gen Zers (38%).
  • Approximately one-third of Gen Zers reported such a purchase of shoes (33%) and beauty products (32%). 
  • In five of the eight tested product categories, female Gen Zers were more likely than male Gen Zers to report purchasing an item because it was sponsored by an influencer or celebrity. 

Advertising as entertainment

At the time of writing, the TikTok hashtags #storytime, #haul, #routine and #grwm (an acronym for “get ready with me”) have over 373 billion collective views. Nearly 2 in 5 young people make purchases via their smartphones weekly, and sales fueled by social media are expected to top $990 billion globally by the end of the year.  

With such massive, ripe-for-retail audiences, it’s no wonder that ad spending continues to shift to digital channels. That advertising is increasingly taking on the appearance of entertainment, rather than actual promotional material. Many brands in the fashion and beauty categories are leading this charge, employing creators to make unscripted videos showcasing their personalities — while trying on a branded item or applying a branded product, of course. 

Esther Haynes, group director of brand communication at the Omnicom Group Inc.-owned global brand experience firm Siegel+Gale, expects companies across a wider range of sectors to embrace this social-inspired marketing style in 2023 — and to do so in expanded ways, such as featuring the story of an employee’s growth trajectory within their profession or recounting tales of high-stakes internal moments.

Haynes said that no matter what video format brands ultimately choose, “the pressure will be on” to produce relatable, genuine content that leaves Gen Z audiences “feeling satisfied, exhilarated or ready to take action.” 

The Nov. 2-8, 2022, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 1,000 U.S. Gen Zers between the ages of 13 and 25, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.