The retail revolution happening on TikTok


It's no secret that the pandemic continues to upend the media and marketing industry and force brands of all shapes and sizes to shift and change their connection with customers.

With many of us stuck at home, Australians are consuming products differently, turning to online platforms for both a more accessible and safer path to purchase, as well as inspiration. Over the same period, TikTok's popularity has increased significantly, as it was the most downloaded app globally in 2020 and continues to trend in 2021.

One of the effects of TikTok's rise in audience is its impact on retail and ecommerce. This has led to the birth of a new trend called #tiktokmademebuyit, which has over 5 billion views on TikTok. This hashtag is living both on and off-platform as it provides the TikTok community worldwide access and inspiration from retail brands of all sizes. The content covers everything from fashion shows, new purchases, get ready with me videos and product reviews. Already, this hashtag is popular with beauty and fashion creators, and rapidly it's moving beyond that to the broader TikTok community.

As just over 2 in 3 people on of TikTok believe the platform helps them get ideas about brands or products they'd never thought of before, according to EU Holiday Shopping research, the retail sector should be taking notice. This trend has meant TikTok has become famous for many retail brands as it pushes consumers through the entire purchase cycle.

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

By cleverly using the For You Page, brands can drive consideration and purchase. The TikTok community is inspired by people they trust, so work with creators to show off your products and increase purchase intent. TikTok's suite of ad products are designed for all stages of the customer journey including conversion, with brands able to leverage the unique benefits to their advantage and drive valuable action from the community to destinations such as either a website or app. To help drive sales on platform, recently at TikTok World the team launched TikTok Shopping, a new suite of advertising tools that will help brands tap into the commerce phenomenon on TikTok. A key part of the product is the showcase tab, a new asset to help brands be a part of the retail revolution on the platform. Its functionality syncs product catalogues and link them directly to an online store at checkout.

But how else can brands do this on TikTok?

The rising trend of community commerce
Community commerce is when the TikTok audience is actively discussing the product already authentically on TikTok. According to Australia Post's "E-Commerce industry report", online shopping growth last year topped 57% year-on-year growth in online goods spend, and with more Aussies shopping online than ever before - around 4 in 5 households purchasing online in 2020.

Forward-thinking brands should harness this growth, at the same time, demonstrate how they are meeting consumer expectations of what it means to be a good business in 2021 and beyond. Because of these changes, the old marketing playbook is becoming less relevant as brands need to be looking at new ways to reach their desired audiences. With the performance goals for businesses varying, TikTok offers a suite of products to help drive business outcomes.

To be successful, marketers need to explore new possibilities for an audience asking for something different. Maximising your presence on TikTok is a mix of art and science, and it's wise to have a holistic approach. Leveraging a unique blend of organic beats, paid peaks, and authentic creator partnerships allows for continued meaningful engagement with your audience and to create a community.

Aussie streetwear retailer Culture Kings is known for capitalising on what's hot on TikTok and the brand recently took advantage of the #howwedo90s trend to highlight its latest collection. Culture Kings content regularly shows that they are talking with their community, instead of at them, and are leaning into the platform's power to drive awareness of their products with some videos generating over a million views.

The TikTok audience is looking at simple things such as creator partnerships that make sense, the brand purpose to be clear in the content and a convenient purchase path. Using creators is an easy way to show up authentically on TikTok and can act as a vehicle to connect your brand with the community. The Athlete's Foot recently did just this, as the brand leveraged creators as part of its 'Katch The Kayanos' campaign activity.

Built for TikTok, the campaign reimagined the For You Page as a virtual race track. Australians invited to 'Katch the Kayanos', for their chance to win the ASICS Gel-Kayano 28 shoe, by scrolling through their feed and finding @sarahmagusara wearing them. Upon finding Sarah, the community were able to enter to win a new pair of the shoes.

As the community scrolled through their For You Page, the advertising placements acted as signposts with different In-Feed ads encouraging viewers to continue to follow Sarah to race to the finish line. Those that reached the final ad placement then had the chance to win a pair of the new ASICS Gel-Kayano 28.

Authenticity drove the success of this campaign. ASICS successfully leveraged Sarah's profile and key advertising placement to keep the community engaged and entertained.

This campaign delivered for The Athlete's Foot both on and off-platform. On TikTok, 'Katch the Kayanos' had an impressive 8.5 million impressions, with a 4.8% average click-through rate and a strong engagement rate of 5%. While off-platform, The Athlete's Foot saw total sales of the shoe increase by 9.9% year on year. The addition of this new and fresh TikTok campaign to the marketing mix strongly contributed to these results.

TikTok's storytelling canvas and content structure is designed to facilitate discovery, so it's no wonder 83% say that TikTok played a role in their purchase decisions, according to EU Holiday Shopping research. Whether it's a brand play, or a direct conversion, TikTok influences the conversation regarding what consumers are buying.

On TikTok platform, the #tiktokmademebuyit trend is going from strength to strength. This is a gold mine for brands, as it shows authentic and genuine connections to their products. Time and time again, products are selling out as creators passionately discuss their benefits on the platform with their community. Often the TikTok community will post about how an influencer drove them to purchase a product. This is happening across multiple industries; from beauty to food. With everything from Maybelline mascara being sold out, to a global shortage of feta pasta, or even a rapid increase in the sale of skateboards, all due to TikTok.

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

There are a few simple tricks for brands looking to use TikTok to connect with customers to make sure they are successful. The community looks for a few key things, including transparency and authenticity from the brand, to discover what's hot in the retail world and want genuine reviews from other consumers. In a crowded market, forward-thinking brands will look to include a range of tactics when engaging the TikTok audience and work closely with creators to speak directly to the TikTok audience.

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