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Shoppertunities on TikTok

In round two of our three-part series, we’re delving a bit deeper into those top four mindset themes – hacks, dupes, cultural trends and creating new uses / occasions – that brands on TikTok have taken and capitalised on. We’ve called them shoppertunities.

Next up is our Client Growth Partner, Romi McConway – a fashion-following, makeup-loving, late thirty-something, time-poor mother of two, who finds TikTok covers all the essential “E”’s in just ten minutes:

Education – tick.
Escapism – tick.
Entertainment – tick.

“I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it”

Shoppable entertainment isn’t new, but on TikTok it’s faster, more impulsive, spontaneous, and supercharged by the latest trends and how-to tutorials.

We either don’t realise we’re being sold to, or we don’t mind – because we’re being engaged and entertained. Whether it’s hair and beauty influencers sharing their views on the latest fad with a subtle click-to-buy button at the bottom, or cleaning creators showing you the latest #cleantok hacks, you really can fall down the proverbial TikTok rabbit hole.

We get sucked in by a tutorial, demo or hack, to be sold a product that we simply can no longer live without. In fact, we’re spending without realising. I like to call this “subconscious spending,” when the clicks can happen almost accidentally!

TikTok creates ‘shoppertunities’ 

The fastest way to grow interest in a brand is through relevancy. Users are heavily influenced by their community and happy to spend more for items they see on the platform. Translating this to TikTok users enables the brand to tap into the users’ mindset and interests. Earlier in this series, Emma explored this with sub-cultures and fan groups. But what other shoppertunities can be harnessed?

And how can brands tap into these hyper-engaged tribes, be part of the conversation and drive sales?

1. Hacks

Hacks are huge on TikTok. Beyond supplying sound life advice, they have become social currency. So within these sub cultures (tribes), they are shared over and over again. ‘CLEANTOK’ is a great example of a subculture who can’t get enough of hacks. By tapping into one of these or even better, coming up with one, brands can establish social kudos and have the potential to reach millions with their hack (and the product which facilitates it of course).

Hacks are also often commented on a lot more too, which is favoured by the algorithm, meaning more people will see the content. Brands can then build further engagement by replying to comments.

Amazon are masters of a hack. They offer creators $3 for every item they endorse on the site which then goes onto sell. The creator gets paid for their work, and Amazon drives sales via credible content.

2. Dupes

Dupes have really taken off over the last year or two on TikTok. No longer something to be embarrassed about or to keep under wraps, but another social currency which people are proud to have found and therefore broadcast to their network.

If you don’t know what a dupe is, literally speaking it is short for “duplicate” and is an imitation product sold at a fraction of the real deal. Or if you’re a millennial like me, you might know them more as “fakes” or even “snides” (my personal fave).

The beauty and fashion industry have really capitalised on this trend and use it as a tactic to promote and sell much more affordable versions of high-end products – MilaniCosmetics, e.l.f cosmetics and Revolution Beauty are great examples.

There is even a product simply known in the “BEAUTYTOK” universe as the “Dyson airwrap dupe” with 1,000s of demos and imitation products available to buy on TikTok Shop. Tutorials will show you the difference between the authentic product and the dupe.

Aldi and Primark are perfect examples of brands who create dupes and content geared towards this with great success. Aldi leads the way with 72.1m views of dupe related content already in 2023 – tapping into a sub-culture of dupe loving beauty fanatics who can’t get enough of their constant and rapid NPDD’s “new product development dupes”.


3. Popular cultural trends

Lockdown changed life for everyone. It was also the catalyst for getting nearly everyone hooked on Little Moons – possibly the most successful #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt product ever. But have you wondered how the little-known NPD from Japan grew its product sales by 1300% in the UK when we were all confined to our homes?

Little Moons had already gained huge traction in Asia, where they’d harnessed the power of K-pop band BTS to sell the product. But it wasn’t gaining the same mass popularity in the UK. Step forward the #ASMR trend, popular with young kids on TikTok as a way of relaxing. The squishiness of the round marshmellow-like Little Moons made this trend a perfect partner. And by jumping on this particular bandwagon, they created a pester power frenzy all over the UK. Packs sold out and #littlemoons received 340m views in less than 3 months.

As quickly as Little Moons became famous, the hype died down. Which just goes to show the power of harnessing a good trend.

And we can’t not talk about Prime (not Amazon by the way), the famous energy drink created by Logan Paul and KSI. It’s a perfect example of world-famous creators using their popularity to promote a pretty standard energy drink (to myself the “millennial mum” anyway) and turn it into an unimaginable cult obsession that teenagers would do anything for.

4. Creating new uses / occasions

Finding new ways and occasions for your audience to use your product is a sure-fire way to drive incremental purchase too. To see where this has worked really well, look no further than “FOODTOK”. Biscoff, Whole Earth and Nutella are great examples of brands driving new use and occasion through ideas and inspiration.

How do they do it? By seeding their product with well-known creators in a TikTok sub-culture (like baking) which results in very natural, organic and authentic endorsements and new use suggestions for their brand.

How to harness your TikTok Shoppertunities

Keep it light-hearted, funny, entertaining, real and relevant – almost quite amateur. The less polished the better, because viewers respond better to authenticity. KFC, Il Makiage and Fenty Beauty are brilliant at this.

Ensure your content is informative. Use tutorials, demos and wear tests to help people watch for longer and stay more engaged. They’ll be more likely to share! Durex does this particularly well.

Use creators who appeal to your target audience. They help tell the story of the products and brand in a natural and authentic way. You don’t even notice or feel you are being sold to. Take a look at Right Guys and the Nature Spell Rosemary Oil trend!

Join existing trending topics, trending sounds and challenges (rather than trying to establish your own). You could even try to put your own spin on them. Think “Show Don’t Sell”, “TikTok Investigates” and “Customer to Creator”. Channel 4 is spot on at doing this.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be open to decentralized branding and allow creators to do what they do best: come up with ideas and content that appeal to their community.

Offer life hacks – cleaning, cooking, renovation tips – these grow legs and can become viral.

Authentically tap into a niche community that support each other and look for advice and new ideas. e.g. #skintok, #breadtok



In the final part of our series, our resident Innovator, Paul Sheldon, will explore TikTok through the eyes of a creator.

Last year he set himself a personal challenge to build up his TikTok following through interactive and shareable content such as AR filters – with fantastic results.