With more than 1 billion users worldwide, TikTok has become a commercial powerhouse as companies fight for the attention of this enormous user base. Products that go viral on the short video platform are almost guaranteed to see sales skyrocket, leading some stores to create “As Seen On TikTok” sections to corral all these in-demand items together. For example, the New York-based candy store It’Sugar started stocking a brand of fruit-shaped gummies after they appeared in untold thousands of videos where people bit into the candy and squirted jelly everywhere. The gummies sold so well that the company started including TikTok into its marketing strategy, with products from the platform now accounting for as much as 10 percent of weekly sales.
“That’s an insane number,” said It’Sugar assistant vice president Chris Lindstedt. Of course, candy stores aren’t the only businesses taking advantage of TikTok. Barnes & Noble lays out tables full of paperbacks that have become popular through the recommendation hashtag #BookTok while Amazon maintains an “Internet Famous” section of its website. Another hashtag, #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt, has received more than 5 billion views and includes a vast array of products ranging from purses to cleaners to feta cheese. After a video of a baked pasta recipe featuring the crumbly white cheese went mega-viral on TikTok, supermarkets saw sales of feta shoot through the roof just like the fruit candies at It’Sugar.
But while seemingly any product can become TikTok famous, it’s exceedingly difficult to determine why a specific item starts trending at any given time. Companies are often taken by surprise if a product starts getting buzz on the platform, like when the fashion brand Kate Spade noticed that searches for “hearts” suddenly increased on their website. “It was a little bit of a head scratcher at first,” said chief marketing officer Jenny Campbell, but the company eventually determined that the interest originated from a minute-long video where a 22-year old woman enthusiastically praised her new heart-shaped purse. Copycat videos quickly followed and soon the $300 Kate Spade bag sold out. “I couldn’t believe it because I wasn’t trying to advertise the bag,” said Nathalie Covarrubias, who posted the original video. “I really was so excited and happy about the purse and how unique it was.”
- How are companies using TikTok to market products that have gone viral on the platform?
- What are some advantages and disadvantages of advertising products on TikTok?