TikTok its time brands got involved Featured Image

TikTok – it’s time brands got involved

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eBusiness Institute Team

It’s ‘Back to school’ time again, when kids, teenagers and young adults head to the new school, college or university year with tons of shiny new things in their pockets and backpacks. With this in mind, we look at the enormous potential of video app TikTok as a tool for influencing online shopping among young people.


TikTok App Icon

Source: TechCrunch

With an estimated 800million international users driving $9m in monthly in-app purchases (up 500% over the last year)[1], interactive video and music community app TikTok is taking the world by storm.

Tik Tok is very seriously threatening to topple YouTube from its lofty perch as the go-to place for digital video, with the latter’s share of the market it once monopolised having stagnated.

Though critics might argue that they’ve been a bit late to smell the coffee, big western brands are beginning to wake up to the vast potential of TikTok as a tool to significantly influence online shopping – especially among younger generations.

What is it?

TikTok has been described, rather adroitly, as ‘the ultimate in instant gratification with short bites of entertainment ideal for mobile consumption’[2]

TikTok Webpage

Source: TikTok

It’s often referred to as a ‘lip-syncing’ app where people act out short, punchy would-be video memes backed by music and other sound clips. The successful videos are endlessly reproduced and remixed among its young users. The platform also offers in-app purchases like effects and filters, which are incredibly popular. 

The content on TikTok isn’t for everyone. And that’s precisely the point: it’s made by young people, for young people. And it owes much of its current success to the fact that it hasn’t yet been flooded with micro-influencers and commercial content. It feels authentic.

TikTok in numbers[3] 

  • It has hit $9m in monthly in-app purchases, up 500% over the last year
  • Available in 150 markets, in 75 languages
  • 80 million US downloads of TikTok
  • Downloaded 68 million times worldwide in October 2018 – making it the third most downloaded app globally
  • Around a third of users are aged 20-24, just over a quarter fall into the 25-29 bracket, and 20% are under 20
  • Around two-thirds of users and content creators are female

Source: SensorTower


Why should brands be getting excited?

TikTok has four primary ad formats:

1. In-feed vertical video 

TikTok In Feed Vertical

Source: TechCrunch


2. Branded filters

TikTok Branded Filters

Source: DigiDay


3. Full-screen takeovers, which allow a brand to be the first thing users see upon opening the app

TikTok full-screen takeovers

Source: TechCrunch


4. And its ‘flagship’ hashtag campaign format

TikTok hashtag campaign

Source: Kroger

The hashtag campaign sees a brand post a challenge with a particular ‘#’ for users take it over to create organic content around it. 

Mountain Dew’s #DewFlipChallenge saw the brand throw a bottle-flip challenge at users, and generated an amazing 1.8 billion TikTok videos.

What could it mean for eCommerce?

TikTok provides a direct line to a younger generation that other platforms simply can’t reach or give brands and eRetailers access to. 

All businesses want more customers. And we have found that social referral traffic to eCommerce sites is growing – in some cases, from 3.1 per cent to 9.1 per cent over a three-year period[4]

With TikTok being one of the most downloaded and hottest apps in the world, there is an exciting opportunity to not only create greater brand awareness but also drive significant traffic to your eCommerce platform and potential huge volumes in sales. 

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has already integrated robust commerce capabilities into the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, and has partnered with Alibaba to add a shopping cart button to allow item purchases. 

Retailers like Hollister are also currently testing TikTok ads that include a ‘shop now’ button that would allow in-app purchases of physical items like its famous jeans and dresses.

In conclusion – TikTok is ripe for brands

Pepsi, Lays, Mountain Dew, and the Superbowl have all dipped their toes in the water. 

Many brands are eagerly anticipating a range of options Tik Tok is creating to help them produce the kind of organic and narrative-led content that its users will react positively to. 

And, if Tik Tok and the brands advertising on there get it right, the rewards could be spectacular. 


This article was created and written by Luigi Matrone – CEO & Founder of the eBusiness Institute.

At the eBusiness Institute, we have extensive experience of working with numerous brands on their digital transformation. We understand the importance of an optimised consumer experience to drive your brand’s sales online and offline. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.


[1] https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/14/tiktok-hit-9m-in-in-app-purchases-last-month-up-500-over-last-year/ 

[2] https://www.techjunkie.com/how-long-can-tik-tok-videos-be/ 

[3] https://www.businessofapps.com/data/tik-tok-statistics/ 

[4] https://digiday.com/retail/tiktok-testing-app-e-commerce/


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