The retail revolution on TikTok


It’s no secret that the pandemic continues to disrupt the media and marketing industry and force brands of all shapes and sizes to change and reshape their relationship with customers.

With many of us stuck at home, Australians consume products differently, turning to online platforms for a more accessible and secure path to purchase, as well as for inspiration. During the same period, the popularity of TikTok increased dramatically, as it was the most downloaded app in the world in 2020 and continues to be trending in 2021.

One of the effects of TikTok’s increasing audience is its impact on retail and e-commerce. This led to the birth of a new trend called #tiktokmademebuyit, which has over 5 billion views on TikTok. This hashtag lives both on and off the platform as it provides the TikTok community worldwide with access and inspiration from retail brands of all sizes. The content covers everything from fashion shows and new buys to get ready with me videos and product reviews. Already, this hashtag is popular with beauty and fashion designers, and it is quickly spreading beyond the wider TikTok community.

As just over 2 in 3 people on TikTok believe the platform helps them form ideas about brands or products they had never thought of before, according to an EU study on shopping for holidays, the retail industry should take this into account. This trend has made TikTok famous for many retail brands as it pushes consumers through the buying cycle.

Like many things on TikTok, it starts with the For You page, which is designed for discovery. Every day our audience opens the app to discover new brands and find products of interest.

By intelligently using the For You page, brands can generate interest and purchase. The TikTok community is inspired by people they trust, so work with creators to show off your products and increase purchase intention. TikTok’s suite of advertising products are designed for all stages of the customer journey, including conversion, with brands able to leverage unique benefits to their advantage and drive valuable community actions to destinations such as a website or an application. To help drive sales on the platform, recently at TikTok World, the team launched TikTok Shopping, a new suite of advertising tools that will help brands harness the phenomenon of commerce on TikTok. A key part of the product is the storefront tab, a new asset to help brands be a part of the platform retail revolution. Its functionality synchronizes product catalogs and links them directly to an online store during checkout.

But how can brands do it differently on TikTok?

The upward trend in community trade
Community commerce is when the TikTok audience actively discusses the product already authentically on TikTok. According to Australia Post’s “Ecommerce Industry Report”, online shopping growth last year exceeded 57% year-over-year in terms of spending on online goods, and with more Aussies buying online than ever before – around 4 in 5 households buying online in 2020.

Forward-thinking brands are expected to capitalize on this growth, while demonstrating how they are meeting consumers’ expectations of what it means to be a good business in 2021 and beyond. As a result of these changes, the old marketing strategy manual is becoming increasingly irrelevant as brands have to look for new ways to reach the audience they want. As business performance goals vary, TikTok offers a suite of products to help drive business results.

To be successful, marketers must explore new possibilities for an audience that asks for something different. Maximizing your presence on TikTok is a mixture of art and science, and taking a holistic approach is wise. Leveraging a unique blend of organic beats, paid peaks, and authentic designer partnerships allows for ongoing and meaningful engagement with your audience and builds community.

Australian streetwear retailer Culture Kings is known to capitalize on TikTok news, and the brand recently took to the # howwedo90s trend to showcase their latest collection. Culture Kings content regularly shows that they are speaking with their community, rather than with them, and delving into the power of the platform to raise awareness of their products with some videos generating over a million views.

TikTok’s audience examines simple things like meaningful designer partnerships, the brand’s goal of being clear in content, and a convenient buying path. Using Creators is an easy way to authentically display yourself on TikTok and can serve as a vehicle to connect your brand to the community. This is exactly what The Athlete’s Foot did, as the brand leveraged the creators as part of its “Katch The Kayanos” campaign activity.

Designed for TikTok, the campaign reinvented the For You page as a virtual running track. Australians invited to ‘Katch the Kayanos’, for a chance to win the ASICS Gel-Kayano 28 shoe, browsing their feed and finding @sarahmagusara wearing them. After finding Sarah, the community was able to enter to win a new pair of shoes.

As the community browsed their For You page, the ad placements acted as signposts with various In-Feed ads encouraging viewers to keep following Sarah to run to the finish line. Those who reached the final ad placement then had the chance to win a pair of the new ASICS Gel-Kayano 28.

Authenticity made the success of this campaign. ASICS was successful in leveraging Sarah’s profile and her key ad placement to keep the community engaged and entertained.

This campaign was carried out for The Athlete’s Foot both on and off the platform. On TikTok, “Katch the Kayanos” had an impressive 8.5 million impressions, with an average click-through rate of 4.8% and a strong engagement rate of 5%. Outside of the platform, The Athlete’s Foot saw the shoe’s total sales increase 9.9% year-over-year. The addition of this new TikTok campaign to the marketing mix greatly contributed to these results.

TikTok’s storytelling and content structure are designed for ease of discovery, so it’s no wonder that 83% say TikTok played a role in their buying decisions, according to an EU study on holiday shopping. Whether it’s a branded game or a direct conversion, TikTok is influencing the conversation about what consumers are buying.

On the TikTok platform, the #tiktokmademebuyit trend is getting stronger and stronger. It’s a gold mine for brands because it shows genuine and authentic connections with their products. Time and time again, products sell out as creators passionately discuss their benefits on the platform with their community. Often times, the TikTok community will post about how an influencer got them to buy a product. This happens in several industries; from beauty to food. With everything from out of stock Maybelline mascara to a global shortage of feta pasta, or even a rapid increase in skateboard sales, all owed to TikTok.

The TikTok community continues to engage after purchase and share recommendations in what can be called digital word of mouth. Online shopping is second nature to them. Last year, when Hannah Schlenker wore the American Eagle sub-brand Aerie leggings in a video, it drew thousands of comments from people asking where they could get a
pair. While the brand didn’t ask Hannah to create the content, they reaped the benefits as the product sold out quickly and continues to be one of the most talked about products in 2021.

There are a few simple tips for brands looking to use TikTok to connect with their customers to ensure they are successful. The community is looking for a few key things, including transparency and brand authenticity, to find out what’s hot in the retail world and want real opinions from other consumers. In a crowded market, forward-thinking brands will look to include a range of tactics to engage TikTok audiences and work closely with creators to speak directly to TikTok audiences.

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