‘TikTok made me purchase it’: How the video-sharing platform influences the retail market?

Brands are increasingly adopting TikTok to both detect trends and promote purchases. If you fall into a specific demographic or are a frequent internet shopper, you are likely to see trendy labels and viral videos tempting you to buy the latest ‘must-have’ item.

Here’s how fashion businesses are using TikTok to influence the future of online fashion shopping and promote social commerce. Unfiltered creative expression platform

Instead of polished and aspirational material like Instagram, TikTok’s fashion is founded on raw truth. Because most material is generated by normal people, TikTok is considered a place for genuine creative expression.

Fashion videos (and the goods featured) often become popular on TikTok since it is more accessible and influential. From Aerie leggings to Zara jeans, this epidemic has rendered many trendy products hard to come by or sold out. One vintage hoodie sold for almost $200 on eBay, prompting Gap to re-manufacture it (on the back of a single viral video).

As many films are made by ordinary and unbiased customers, it is difficult to arrange this sort of exposure – and the resulting sales bump – in a controlled environment. Brands, on the other hand, may benefit from the hashtags that buyers on the site use and search under when looking for new trends. For example, the hashtag #TikTokfashion has received more than 17 billion views as of today. Other, more specialized hashtags also attract a lot of attention; for example, the hashtag #cottagecorefashion has had over 14.6 million views.

Brands are taking advantage of hashtag challenges on the site, as well as repurposing user-generated films for use on their own social media platforms. Take, for example, the “Gucci Model Challenge,” a viral fad in which individuals pitched themselves as potential models for the Gucci fashion house. As of right now, the hashtag #guccimodelchallenge has received 261.5 million views, with the luxury brand itself joining into target TikTok’s Gen-Z user base through the challenge.

Indeed, it is this demographic (and their expenditure) which drives most of TikTok’s fashion companies. More than 60% of the platform users are generation Z and companies are of course anxious to have more connections to their target demographic with an expenditure of over $150 billion.

The General Manager of UNiDAYS, Viviane Paxinos, told Econsultancy that the success of this platform comes from an algorithm that delivers material to young users based on their individual interests – not simply the followers of the platform (like on Instagram). The material, Paxinos adds, is “motivated by meme culture, unedited and genuine videos by real people, entertainment and comedy” by producers and morsel-sized “life hack” advice.”

Paxinos also cites a recent UNiDAYS survey of 20 million Gen Z students as more evidence of TikTok’s fashion brands potential. The poll revealed that 49 percent of the respondents’ fashion purchases were influenced by social media businesses. “TikTok is a development potential for fashion retailers to promote brand recognition and social trade,” she says.

Capitalization on influence

Another method companies engage young customers on TikTok is based on major events and their influencers.

As Glossy writes, Olympic sponsoring businesses are presently being exposed by TikTok influencers, who provide viewers an insight into the background, while wearing such goods. During the Games, Olympic gold winner Tom Daley brought his TikTok sponsor’s Adidas videos and surfers Caroline Marks represented Ralph Lauren, who designed the outfit for Team USA.

Brander sponsors are often exposed through television coverage and personal spectators, but the latter has decreased this year and overall more consumers are seeing less TV and spending more time on social media.

In fact, influencer collaborations are a natural choice for many fashion businesses on the site, some of which use this technique together with sponsored advertisements to create awareness and sales. One brand that succeeds is Shein – a Chinese distributor who became TikTok’s best-known brand in 2020. This was done with a combination of influence relationships, involving both micro and macro influencers and sponsored advertising.

Interestingly, Shein takes on the ambition of many users to gain influence, with many people (often with low levels of followers) establishing their own Shein trucks to be seen and highlighted by the company and earning money via its famous affiliate scheme. Shein’s cheap price point implies that it is easy to achieve and feed into the marketing engine of Shein.

This technique coincides with TikTok’s early marketing advice: “Don’t produce advertising. TikToks’. According to Viviane Paxinos of UNiDAYS, “half of Gen Z (56%) don’t follow fashion companies on social.” “Brands that partner with creators – particularly those that appeal with Gen Z consumers – get organic reach in a more authentically customized to TikTok experience,” she claims.

Runway shows and events on demand

In September, TikTok hosted its first virtual fashion month, a result of Covid disrupting in-person events. Twice a week during #TikTokFashionMonth, the site streamed events from Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton. The last show, TikTok Catwalk Odyssey, featured TikTok creators on the runway and sold unique collections to TikTok fans.

The live feeds attracted over three million views on TikTok. In compared to quick fashion businesses, this is a big figure for luxury retail firms that tend to suffer on the site. It has also allowed a younger population to see runway shows using the channel they choose, allowing luxury companies to connect.

TikTok doesn’t only webcast runway displays. TikTok is also testing a new live-stream purchasing feature that allows consumers to directly engage with businesses and creators. Initial participation came from Walmart in December 2020 and March of this year. Walmart claims its first live stream garnered seven times more views than planned and increased TikTok followers by 25%.

No surprise that more than 100 million Chinese customers watch a live internet video event every month. While it may not reach this level, TikTok’s commitment to the concept may help it acquire momentum in western countries in the coming months.

Added shopping tools (and opportunities for emerging fashion brands)

TikTok isn’t only exploring live streaming for commerce. TikTok has been testing an in-app shopping option since May, according to Bloomberg. According to Bloomberg, the test included streetwear label Hype, whose “TikTok storefront displays a selection of items with product pictures and pricing, according to a screen shot supplied to Bloomberg News.”

After partnering with Shopify, TikTok now allows merchants to use ‘TikTok For Business Ads Manager’ straight from the Shopify dashboard. So they can quickly develop In-Feed shoppable video advertisements and link conversion tracking tools.

Despite these advancements in social commerce, Viviane Paxinos cautions youth-oriented fashion retail businesses. Because, according to a UNiDAYS poll, 75% of Generation Z distrusts online buying. “How [Gen Z] consume culture and advertising often conflict,” Paxinos adds. “They move platforms when one loses attractiveness due to too much advertising and brand messaging. This is important to remember when using TikTok or any other platform.”

The ‘value exchange’ is more essential to Gen Z, who are “the epitome of frugal, realistic, and determined,” according to Paxinos.

So, as TikTok evolves into a consumer discovery platform, new companies seize the chance to engage audiences by tapping into particular and value-driven interests, some of which originate on TikTok. Antique Stock Reserve is one such modest and sustainable fashion business that upcycles vintage clothes.

According to Vogue Business, the firm began as a platform to exchange ideas with an ethical message. Vintage Stock Reserve, now with 1.9 million followers, sells chosen pieces on their own website to support thrifted and sustainable fashion.

As TikTok invests in social commerce, more fashion firms are expected to follow. While internet and social media are key components of omnichannel retail strategy, fashion businesses should consider how they can drive customers into stores.

The platform connects profoundly with consumers (especially Generation Z) for a variety of reasons – hint: it isn’t brand participation. Conversely, companies who can embrace the platform’s entertaining, genuine, and often unpredictable side are more likely to succeed (and drive sales).

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