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TikTok Made Me Buy It…A world of shoppertunities

In this 3-part series, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the creator-led world of TikTok. We’ve identified four themes that TikTok have adopted in its social media platform – hacks, dupes, cultural trends and fan groups. We’ve called them: shoppertunities.

TikTok has taken the world by storm with 1.5b users and we wanted to shed light on how FMCG brands can tap into the various sub-communities and drive engagement and purchase.

Our opinions are based on our own experiences as TikTok users, creators, marketers and shopaholics! And as we don’t want our observations to lead to bias, we’ve included findings from the chitter chatter of social users themselves, via our partnership with Relative Insight.

Relative Insight is a text analytics company that helps to analyse and visualise text data found through online conversations in forums and on social media. This unique voice of consumer research, when coupled with our Consumer Brands expertise, delivers actionable insights on how brands can benefit from TikTok.


First up is our Head of Agency, Emma Thompson

– a TikTok fan and early adopter from when it was still known as Musical.ly! Professionally, Emma has always had a fascination with entertainment platforms that creatively engage with fans.

Curious about what she discovered?

We’ll bet you are…

“I’m here to have a good time”

TikTok is unrecognisable from its days as a start-up.

The fastest-growing platform ever has fully embraced “Community Commerce”. Extending into instant buying through TikTok Shop, live selling and a wealth of creator’s own pages. From shopping integrations to marketplaces…

With a hive of micro-influencers, it’s no surprise there are brand shoppertunities emerging, both for challenger brands and consumer packaged goods (CPGs).

“So, you wanna make a TikTok?”

Back in 2018, TikTok (or Musical.ly) was known as “Insta for the under 13’s” and resembled Vine, as it was video streaming only. With 30 seconds to perform, the users created their own videos either mimicking a dance move or lip-syncing over the latest song whilst using whatever face filter was trending at the time. Unknowns became overnight social stars – look at Gil Croes, who now has over 35.4m followers and 860m likes.

As one of those stereotypical mothers who set up an account for their pre-teen back in 2018 I too, thought that I’d be in with a chance to be Gil Croes, with my 30-seconds-of-fame clips. Alas, I didn’t. Nowadays, I’m blocked from my daughter’s account, but I still get my nightly fix of conspiracy theories, dance-move tutorials and cleaning life-hacks, diving into a TikTok hole that sinks hours of my evening, being entertained without ever glancing at the TV.


But why is it so addictive? Because it hooks you with trends, not friends.

There has been a HUGE amount of diversification in the social-media landscape over the past eight years. We’re seeing the emergence of platforms that host and contain sub-communities, all bound by common interests, instead of real-world friend groups.

So, as the global macro-trend in people’s appetite for content based on culture, community, personalisation, entertainment, expression, and creativity grows, so too have the social media channels evolved to capture community tribes.


This has been the key to TikTok’s success. Unlike Facebook and Instagram, TikTok’s content is served to users based only on their interests. Not age, location, or physical friend groups that you want to connect to online.


“You need to try this, TikTok made me buy it!”

The complex algorithm behind TikTok monitors and learns about you through factors such as: time spent watching a video, the likes, the follows and the hashtags. It then ensures the user has a hyper-customised experience based on their interests.  Don’t believe me? Borrow a friend’s phone and scroll through their FYP to see if you have the same experience.

This puts TikTok onto a winner: interest-based sub-communities that gain fan group status have a captive audience for influencing trends. Creating a powerful selling platform for any relevant brands.

“I LOVE this trend!”

TikTok recognises if you’re a curious foodie, a DIY hacker, a bookworm, interested in travelling, music, dance, makeup, fashion, spiritualism etc. and fills your FYP feed with popular content of those like-minded creators. Followers become fans, fans become captive audiences and captive audiences are easier to switch to shoppers and buyers. Subtle adverts are primely placed between the content, grabbing the attention of the fan. Social media users are no strangers to interrupted ads in the stream. But what makes TikTok unique is the advertising that isn’t obvious.

Notable campaigns for social selling in this way are from Il Makiage and the viral Rosemary Oil trend.

“Professional idiot”, Amy-Jo Simpson shows the perfect example of influencer paid advertising when she promotes the incredible hair growth oil.

Both of these brands subtly “take over” content and makeup feeds with user-generated product demos. At first glance, these adverts look like regular users’ posts, with the only difference being a “Visit” store button at the base.

See what they did there?



So TikTok, like other social media platforms, has “paid for” advertising, creator-led demonstrations and product placements. But they take it to another level of shoppability for fan groups, by locking in shops for the subcommunities. They might not be mainstream, but they are full of genuinely passionate followers, and TikTok commerce has grown around them. Finding your tribe and enjoying that immediate hit of fresh content brings fans together in a way any brand would envy!


Which TikToker are you?

Are you a bookworm?

Try “BOOKTOK” where you can get rewards for reviewing the books you read (sponsored by Amazon)

Into magic, astrology, and self-care?

“WITCHTOK” might be your perfect fit.

After a more authentic alternative to the fitness fanatics on Instagram?

“FITTOK” is your answer.

So, this brings me to the killer question.

Is TikTok a commerce platform in disguise as a social app?

Yes, and no.

TikTok is the most engaging social media site on the block. On average, users spend around 2,700 minutes every month and a whopping 1.5 hours every day on the platform*! This is incredible given our average attention span stands at 8.25 seconds (just 3 seconds longer than a goldfish*).

Interestingly, TikTok has never positioned itself as an “entertainment platform”. From the get-go, it has described itself as “community, commerce and entertainment”. It has a “content-first” approach and understands the importance of its ecosystem of creators, which makes this moreish entertainment platform so addictive.

With a super mix of hyper-customised experience and relevant brand advertisement, this platform is perfectly placed to maximise shoppertunities.


In the next part of our series, Client Growth Partner, Romi McConway, explores just how brands can benefit from the popular culture trends of TikTok, including the ever-growing world of hacks and dupes. As well as how brands can drive occasions to harness the power of the super-engaged tribes, be part of the conversation and drive brand sales.