In the past, someone looking for shopping inspiration and advice might have asked a friend or travelled to their local shop. Today, they’re going online. On YouTube, for example, watch time for shopping-related videos grew more than 5X in the U.S. between 2016 and 2018.1
With so many people watching shopping-related videos, it should be no surprise that shopping has been behind several of this year's popular trends. Here are three quirky shopping-related trends that I’ve seen taking off on YouTube.
Letting the person in front of me decide
Who among us has not suffered from analysis paralysis brought on by trying to answer this simple question: “What do you want for dinner?”
To overcome this debilitating sense of not knowing what to do, YouTube creator Derek Gerard decided that, for 24 hours, he would buy whatever food the person in front of him had just purchased. From a fast food drive-through to the supermarket, he left all the decision-making up to fate. And in so doing, he kicked off a new shopping trend. Between the start of April and mid-May this year, there were over 1,200 videos uploaded as a part of this viral trend, which have, to date, amassed 75 million views.2
While the trend itself might sound a bit niche, it does speak to a larger shopping-related phenomenon: There is so much choice out there that people are feeling overwhelmed and are looking for direction. And not just from their favourite creators. In fact, over 70% of all shoppers say that they are open to learning about products on YouTube from brands.3
Trying the best and worst reviewed places in my city
The vast majority of us – 82%, according to Pew Research – read customer ratings or reviews before buying something. But can you really trust those reviews? Research suggests not, which is why this new trend that I’ve noticed on YouTube is an interesting one: creators trying out the best and worst reviewed places in their cities.
The trend, popularised by YouTube creator Philip Solo, started with restaurants, and has since extended beyond the food industry to hotels and even swimming pools. We already knew that product reviews were popular on YouTube. More than 55% of people say that they search for a product on Google and then learn more by going to YouTube before they buy it.4 But this latest shopping trend shows that people are also interested in watching reviews about businesses as well, even if it’s only for entertainment purposes.
Anything you can carry, I will buy
Challenge videos are deeply embedded in YouTube’s DNA and are responsible for some of the most iconic cultural moments on the platform. A new trend that I’ve spotted puts a shopping-related twist on things.
In “Anything You Can Carry, I’ll Buy” videos, first made popular by MrBeast, a creator grants some lucky friend or family member permission to run wild in a store, promising to buy them whatever they can physically cart up to the cash register without dropping. While this shopping trend has taken off globally over the past few months, it has been uniquely popular in the U.S. and the UK, with 54% of videos with “I'll buy” and “anything” or “whatever” in the title coming from the U.S. and 19% from the UK.
Shopping spree videos have generally piqued YouTube viewers’ interest, and there have been over 1,000 years of watch time of “shopping spree” videos over the past two years.5 The re-imagining of TV game show nostalgia coupled with the excitement of a shopping spree allows consumers to see brands in a more attainable light rather than just a traditional commercial.