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Looking for a college-bound influencer? Look on YouTube



Dorm HaulYou may think that big chains like Walmart, Target and Staples control back-to-school shopping but the real power is in the hands of the YouTube haulers.

These young women have the eyes and ears of the older teens headed off to college and the younger teens who are dreaming about the future. Sitting in their sparkly bedrooms, they show off everything from hangers to sheets, to communal shower must-haves and tools for whipping up a “no kitchen needed” snack.

Think Google says that searches for “back to school haul” on YouTube are up 70% this year. Searches for “dorm hauls” on YouTube doubled in the first 10 days of August.

Hoping to be first in line, this year’s haulers released twice as many back-to-school haul videos in the first seven months of 2014 as they did in 2013. Last year, most of the videos went up in August but this year a large number of videos launched in July. Send them all a thanks for helping to extend the BTS shopping season.

The best thing about the dorm haul audience is that its made up of young, first time decision makers who are still open to trying new brands. Mom is going to suggest her old favorite brands, but daughter is more likely to listen to the suggestions of a YouTube star.

Google also makes note of a spin-off trend; dorm tour videos.

In these videos, college students show off their rooms with an emphasis on decor, storage and comfort. I think these videos are popular because they take some of the fear out the process. So many TV shows and movies revolve around the college outcast who is homesick or stuck with a wacky roommate. YouTube dorm tour videos are proof that college life can be fun and exciting.

This chart shows the number of “dorm tour” searches on YouTube. What a difference over last year.

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The final trend is Dorm DIY. “Dorm decor” searches on Google are up 37% YOY. Teen DIY in general is a huge trend as kids look for cheap and imaginative ways to spruce up their bedrooms and everything they own. The current king of DIY products is Washi Tape. This is a paper tape that comes in every possible color and pattern. Scrapbookers and cardmakers were the first to use it and now it’s grown into an industry all its own.

Consumers searching for dorm room-related topics are about 100x more likely to be searching for washi tape than the average Google user and about 150x more likely to be searching for wall decals. (Google Data)

Google even has a chart!

Washi Tape SearchesIf you can mix Washi Tape with your product or service, you’re golden.

Bottom line, if you’re trying to reach a Millennial audience, spend some time on YouTube watching the dorm haul videos. Then reach out to the YouTubers with product samples or a sponsorship opportunity. The worst thing that can happen is they’ll ignore you. Terrible if you’re a teen but you’re a grown-up, you can take it.