Buy Until Your Scroll Stops: The TikTok Online Retail Boom | Culture








CF Masonville Place, meet your partner: TikTok is picking up your shopping throne.

TikTok is one of the fastest growing social media platforms in the world. Users spend over 850 minutes on average per month on the app and it was the most downloaded app of 2020.

The hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has over 5.8 billion views on TikTok, and in-app purchases have increased 553% since May 2020. With over one billion accounts – and 700 million active users – TikTok has reached new heights for buying and selling products and services.

“[TikTok’s] Definitely made me want to buy more of everything, ”says Thea Medland, third year media, information and technoculture student. “I think I’ve been good enough not to fall prey to the trends and buy everything I see, but it’s definitely testing me.”

Medland is one of the many students who turned to TikTok for their product recommendations. Her purchases include clothes and several novels from #BookTok – a collective hashtag for TikTok book lovers.

“I was attracted to [the clothing] because I could see how it was moving on the body and I thought it was looking really good on the girl. I may not have clicked a static image of it on the company’s website, but seeing it “in action” convinced me, ”says Medland.

“For the books, this was a girl who had read and liked some of my favorite books, so I was confident that if we had the same opinions on the others, we would have the same opinion on the new ones that she recommended. “

TikTok’s purchasing power has translated into real businesses. Indigo Books & Music now has a section of its website dedicated to books that have gone viral on TikTok called “Now Trending on #BookTok” and has dedicated tables for these books in their stores. Amazon’s US website even has an “Internet Famous” section, encompassing everything from viral makeup to cookware.

Books published several years ago – including We were liars by E. Lockhart and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – reappeared on the New York Times bestseller list nearly a decade after their initial publication. The Achilles song sold around 10,000 copies per week in March – nine times more than when it won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2012.

Second-year criminology student Chloe Aczel also looks to #BookTok for recommendations and has also purchased various skin care products and clothing.

“They appeared on my ‘For You’ page several times and I saw how much other people liked the products,” she writes. “Watching multiple videos a day of someone buying and using specific products definitely influences me to buy that same product.”

Other items that went viral included The Pink Stuff – an all-purpose cleanser – CeraVe and The Ordinary skincare lines, Aerie’s OFFLINE high-waisted wrap-around leggings, and elf Cosmetics concealer. Many products can be found on Amazon, which makes them readily available.

These products will typically sell for several weeks and temporarily boost the company’s profits – The Pink Stuff has grown from $ 2.6 million in sales three years ago to $ 34 million in 2020, accounting for half of sales. of the company, and CeraVe’s media value is up 128% year-on-year.

“I think one of the main reasons people tend to buy things after seeing them on TikTok is because it’s a genuine product discovery,” says Medland. “With traditional critics, I don’t know anything about this person other than their opinion – if we don’t have the same taste or style, then their opinion is irrelevant to me.”

The most effective sales tactic, often overlooked by e-commerce businesses, is word of mouth marketing. Nielsen reports that 92% of consumers believe earned media suggestions – like recommendations from friends and family – come before all other forms of advertising.

“Being able to visually see how much a product has helped someone more influential is,” says Aczel. “I definitely trust influencers on TikTok more.”

With the rise of TikTok comes the rise of their influencers and content creators. Brands are expected to spend up to $ 15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022, and the app has seen a 164% increase in sponsored posts and a 481% increase in engagements in 2020.

TikTok also has its own Creators Marketplace, allowing businesses to partner with creators for advertising. Brands can choose how they want to deliver their content, including embedded videos, brand takeovers (the landing page ads that take up users’ screens when they open the app), and content. sponsored.

While there may be more announcements, Medland doesn’t think the app will grow into a full-featured e-commerce site.

“If TikTok looks more like a shopping site and less like a social media platform, people will stop buying what they see because it won’t look so authentic anymore. “


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Anne G. Cash

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