The Importance of YouTube on Your Business

Are you leveraging the power of YouTube to help your store?

The Importance of YouTube on Your Business

A member of The Hunting Public, a show with a huge following on YouTube, signs an autograph for a customer during a retail store special event.

Admittedly, I am not a big fan of social media. I’m just not exciting enough of a guy to spend a lot of time talking about myself on Facebook or Instagram. But I do have to admit — when I need to learn how to fix something in a hurry, the first thing I do nowadays is spin up YouTube and look for a quick video that can help me solve my problem.

What, exactly, is YouTube? Basically, it’s a video sharing service started by three former PayPal executives in 2005. Google bought the site in November 2006, for $1.65 billion; YouTube now operates as one of Google’s subsidiaries. To show how it has grown both as a business and in popularity, mostly with younger people, in 2019 it had revenues of $15 billion. It has firmly established itself as a mainstay for today’s younger generation. And while entertainment preoccupies much of a viewer’s time on the platform, it’s also evolved to a place of search and product discovery, ultimately influencing many on their path to purchasing products across all marketing categories.

“On YouTube, there’s a lot more content by kids for kids that is deeply appealing to them,” said Michael Preston, executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop (JGCC), “Having search and discovery tools embedded in the platform makes it a different kind of experience.”

Founded in 2007, the JGCC is an independent, non-profit research and innovation group founded by Sesame Workshop in order to advance children’s literacy skills and foster innovation in children’s learning through digital media.

On YouTube today, there is a preponderance of so-called “social media influencers.” According to, influencers in social media are “people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic. They make regular posts about that topic on their preferred social media channels and generate large followings of enthusiastic, engaged people who pay close attention to their views. Brands love social media influencers because they can create trends and encourage their followers to buy products they promote.”

Let’s look at a July 2019 survey conducted by Wunderman Thompson Commerce, a global eCommerce consultancy focused on bringing strategic clarity, tech know-how and creativity to help businesses deliver profitable commerce capabilities across digital channels, including everything from Amazon to online retail to direct to consumer (D2C) marketing.

In this survey, the leading influencers in both the U.S. and United Kingdom on children/teen (ages 6-16) purchases were friends (29%); influencers on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. (25%); family members (21%); celebrities (6%); athletes (4%); business people (1%); in-store sales people (1%); journalists (1%); and politicians (1%). Thirteen percent said that nothing/nobody makes me want to buy something, and “other” scored 2%. The survey did note one caveat, and that is that younger kids might not be able to differentiate vlogger authenticity from paid promotions.

I find it quite interesting that celebrities and athletes, held in such high esteem by much of our society and that many companies and business covet as product endorsers, don’t have near the “juice” that friends, influencers, and parents have — at least in this survey. 

What Does This Mean for You?

OK, you say, that’s all very nice. But since these kids don’t have any discretionary income to speak of, how does this affect my business? Like this. In an October 2019 survey conducted by the National Retail Foundation titled “Fall 2019 Consumer View: Keeping Up With Gen Z,” roughly 95% of U.S. parents say that it is “important” to involve their children in purchases specifically for the child, and 85% said the same regarding purchases for the family or household.

The poll also found that among those who included their children in the pre-purchase process, 67% looked at products online, and 54% read or watched product reviews. The survey showed that 69% of respondents looked at products in-store; 67% looked at products online; 60% watched commercials; 56% added items to their wish list or shopping cart; 54% read or watched product reviews; and 52% browsed through catalogs.

How can you use YouTube today? Ever thought about creating your own little YouTube channel that promotes the services and products that your business offers each and every day? That offers tutorials on how to maintain and service the products you sell, using products you carry in-store? Perhaps you have potential nano-influencers (defined as folks with no large social media following, but great expertise in a niche area) that are well known in your own market area.

This could be anyone from the best bass fisherman in town sharing techniques and gear-rigging tips to a former military member sharing tips on maintaining his rifles and how to improve shooting skills to a bowhunter discussing seasonal tips and tactics for hunting the local deer herd, and more. You can even be the “star” of your own YouTube productions designed to teach your customers something as well as draw them into the store for special promotions. You promote it via your customer email lists and in-store flyers.

The successful retailer today has to be looking not just at its bottom line today, but how you will successfully compete tomorrow. As families continue to redefine how they research, browse and buy products, understanding the loyalty and utility kids have for their preferred platform is integral to understanding them as the consumers of the future. Remaining indispensable for its reliable search and discovery features, YouTube will likely continue to influence the purchase decisions of kids — and by extension, their parents — for the foreseeable future.

Do you use YouTube to promote your business, and/or help customers learn? Drop me a note at I’d love to hear about it.


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