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GUEST COMMENT TikTok: From viral content platform, to top-tier shopping destination

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When you think of TikTok, the first image that probably springs to mind is dance videos and lip-syncing. And while this is still a large part of the platform experience, the winds of change are blowing.

A new report by Croud has revealed that 1 in 10 UK consumers start their fashion shopping journey on TikTok. And when you compare this to the number of UK shoppers who said they do the same on Snapchat (7%) and Facebook (17%), as examples of platforms that have been around for more than 10 years, this figure is even more compelling.

With TikTok already possessing a highly-engaged audience base, there is a real opportunity for the platform to look for even more ways to blend commerce through its native formats, with the end goal being to drive more users to the platform to make their shopping purchases.


With the rate at which its shopping offering is growing, it wouldn’t be remiss to suggest that TikTok should start to be seen as a serious competitor to the established fashion marketplace powerhouses, such as ASOS and Boohoo.

From its inception, TikTok has played a huge part in influencing fashion-conscious shoppers. Individuals who were on the hunt for revolutionary and eye-catching outfits could use popular hashtags, such as ‘#outfitinspo’ and ‘#outfitoftheday’. Catching on to this demand and spotting a huge opportunity, the social platform has sought to enable businesses to connect with potential consumers within these online communities.

One of the most notable methods that TikTok has employed to try and achieve its goal involves forging partnerships with reputable and renowned ecommerce platforms. In August this year, Shopify and TikTok expanded their existing partnership to introduce in-app shopping. And most recently, Square has joined forces with the social platform to enable Square’s merchants to set up online stores to which users can be redirected after watching videos or ads on TikTok.

These agreements have subsequently enabled retailers to connect with these highly-engaged audiences that were previously harder to reach. Earlier this year App Annie reported that TikTok users now spend more time each month watching content than YouTube users, watching more than 24 hours of content per month. It’s also been suggested that the average user opens the app 19 times per day!

The incredible amount of engagement and time in-app that TikTok has been able to generate in just a few short years is very enticing to retail brands – and advertisers – who are now finding even more ways to have a presence on the platform.

Ads playing a more pivotal role

TikTok has also taken many measures to improve the ad experience on its platform, not only for its users but also the brands that want to be on there. 

And with a new Nielsen study finding that 68% of TikTok users find its advertising content specifically to be unique or different from that of any competitive platform, there is good reason for these advertisers to want to get on board.

Thanks to improvements in TikTok’s Ads Manager platform, sellers are able to customise and control their ads, add product collections, and use links within the content itself to reroute viewers and potential customers.

The release of the feature ‘Promote’ on the platform has also caused monumental waves. Content that is already performing well can now be converted into an ad, ensuring that users can enjoy an authentic branded experience. Whilst this can be done in a quick-and-easy fashion, advertisers must already boast a strong presence from an organic standpoint. This effectively means that those with a solid foundation can make incremental gains in regards to their reach.

The journey isn’t over yet

Whilst TikTok is fast catching up with the likes of Facebook and Snapchat when it comes to ecommerce, there is still much work to be done.

Despite being the hottest app right now, it still needs to convince its audience that having access to shopping opportunities via the app is valuable. In order to instil confidence in potential brands and advertisers, TikTok needs to ensure that the shopping experience is smooth and seamless.

Thankfully, the transition from inspirational platform to shopping phenomenon is one that, so far, has been well-received by seasoned TikTokers. According to data from Adweek-Morning Consult, 49% of the app’s users have said that they have purchased a product that they saw advertised, promoted or reviewed on TikTok.

Fashion shoppers have also responded positively when these ads were pushed via social media. Croud’s research shows that 36% of respondents across the UK, US, Germany and Italy answered favourably when asked if they had purchased an item of clothing or footwear by clicking on a social ad or post in the last year.

Lessons for brands

All the evidence suggests that brands operating in the fashion retail sector need to monitor TikTok as a shopping channel.

It is here to stay, and is well-deserving of a spot in their media mix. 

Marketers need to develop an in-depth understanding of their specific audience and how they behave on the platform, and then use these insights to produce improved creative campaigns. These, in turn, will drive better results.

It is not a case of taking a one-size-fits-all approach either – brands must invest time into producing bespoke content for TikTok, rather than elect to repurpose old material. Additionally, if they can take advantage of original and native content, which is consistent with a genre and tone, then it will become a more seamless user experience. With Promote being capable of boosting strong organic content, this is seen as a win-win for brands.

TikTok has more than earned its place in the conversation. This is a platform whose community is only going to continue to grow. Its aspiration to not only be seen as a leading content platform, but also an ecommerce titan, is something all brands need to get on board with – or risk being left behind.


Yazmin King, paid social account director at Croud

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