Sixteen-year-old Audrey Voss' videos have earned more than 6,400 views.
Julia, another teen, has had about 19,500 people watch her on YouTube.
And the 336 videos posted by a young woman who goes by the name "dulcecandy87" have been viewed nearly 47 million times, all told.
What's the big draw?
Lip gloss. Hoodies. Pencil cases.
That's right, shopping.
All these young women, and thousands more, are cranking out "haul" videos — as in "here's all the stuff I hauled home from Forever 21 and the Walgreen's makeup department" — and inviting friends and strangers alike to check out their latest purchases. The videos, which range from oddly captivating to crashingly dull, represent yet another way in which the Internet is both nurturing new communities and redefining retail.
"Haul videos are blogs meet videos meet consumer ratings," said Kirthi Kalyanam, J.C. Penney Research professor at Santa Clara University in California, who studies retailing. "In product categories like cosmetics, where look and feel are important and are not that easily communicated via text, video blogs can be powerful."
Audrey — known on YouTube as "wowaudrey" — recently sat in her bedroom amiably describing a nostalgic collection of Tinkerbell-themed school supplies as the camera on her laptop recorded the scene.
"One big thing to do at my school is to choose your favorite children's character," Audrey, a high school junior in San Jose, Calif., explained to the YouTube audience. In patter only slightly less polished than that of a veteran Home Shopping Network host, she suggested that viewers might choose school supplies in a polka-dot or animal-print theme, "so that you're exhibiting your style in class."
She continued: "The first thing I got was this backpack, which was $19.50. It looks like this. It has a raised leaf with a ladybug on it," she said, pointing out a leaf-shaped outer pocket.
A couple of minutes later, Audrey's newest "haul" video was done, just in time to catch (and influence) any last-minute shoppers.
Julie Gerstein, an associate editor of TheFrisky.com, a fashion and celebrity website, said haul videos provide "a way for these girls to show alliances to particular culture markers within their groups" and to build a virtual community, as they subscribe to and comment on each other's videos. "What you buy is who you are, to these girls who are doing these videos," she said.
The "hauling" phenomenon is a rare bit of good news for retailers at a time when the economy is still hobbling.
"Some of these video bloggers already have a following, so a retailer can tap into this," Kalyanam said. "The retailer can also leverage a video made by a consumer, which costs the retailer no money."
YouTube now features about 261,000 haul videos posted by the approximately 15,000 users who participate in the company's ad-revenue-sharing "partners" program, a company spokeswoman said. That means the total number of haul videos on the site is likely to be much higher.
As hauling has gained popularity, companies have begun courting some of the genre's celebrities, including Blair and Elle Fowler, aka "juicystar07" and "allthatglitters21," sisters from Tennessee, and "dulcecandy87" from Oxnard, Calif., sending them merchandise to review online.
But most young women and girls declare somewhere on their YouTube profiles that they buy everything in their hauls with their own money and are not being paid to praise (or pan). Audrey has two part-time jobs and purchases all the items featured in her haul videos herself.