TikTok Shopping and the rise of “social commerce”
The Pink Stuff, an abrasive cleaning paste for hard surfaces, did “absolutely nothing for 15 years,” said Henrik Pade, managing director of its parent company Star Brands, headquartered in the UK. In 2017, it got a little boost thanks to the influencer cleanup on Instagram and YouTube. The company, which at the time sold most of its cleaning products in traditional grocery stores, started investing in social promotion, but “we didn’t know enough,” Pade said.
Then came TikTok. “We cannot take credit for this as a great strategic plan,” Pade said. “It happened, and we started to follow.” Videos of people cleaning kitchens, bathrooms, and off-label items – shoes, car wheels – with the Pink Stuff have, in just over a year, racked up over 250 million views. Some are effective demos. Lots of jokes.
Three years ago, Pade said, pulp sales totaled about 2 million pounds, or about $ 2.6 million. Last year, they topped 25 million pounds, or $ 34 million, accounting for half of the company’s total sales. “In the UK it has gone from being a niche product to being widely distributed through retailers,” including the country’s largest supermarket chains, which still account for the vast majority of its domestic sales, Mr Pade said. . In the United States, however, 85% of sales are made online, mostly through Amazon, largely thanks to TikTok.
Stories like these suggest, with some credibility, that on TikTok, everything thing may be the next big thing. The app that always tells you what to watch next and has no problem telling you what to buy next. Yet his version of shopping is also blatantly improvised, with a heavy reliance on Amazon, where creators go viral gold and users follow. To an international tech conglomerate, this may seem like unrealized potential.
Features like brand storefronts could be understood as attempts by TikTok to catch up with Instagram’s recent attempts to become a one-stop shopping destination. A few, however, hinted at the desire to transform TikTok into something even more independent and business-oriented, following the path of TikTok’s Chinese sister app, Douyin, which has over 600 million people. users. Douyin brands and users can already sell and buy products without leaving the app – by the millions. It has its own payment system and has started siphoning market share from Chinese e-commerce giants, which it has explicitly identified as competitors.
The question of whether “an end-to-end shopping experience,” as Irigoyen described earlier this week, is what people ultimately expect from their social spaces: perhaps the naked consumerism of #TikTokMadeMeBuy as far as it feels organic. Or maybe TikTok is different. It’s a platform that has never claimed to be anything other than a machine for producing and monetizing virality, and it has never hesitated to tell us what it wants us to do next. What do we have to lose, anyway, if this becomes a mall? The best of the rest of TikTok is fleeting though we enjoy it – it’s always been part of the fun.