By: Kevin Bailey – Design1st
TikTok might be the ‘hottest’ video sharing app, especially with Gen Z creators and consumers. With over 1 billion active users, it is the most-used and fastest growing app of all time. It has exploded into something far more than a social media platform. It’s a cultural phenomenon like we have never seen before. Offering videos ranging in content from fashion to celebrity culture, music to memes, and politics to activism, the app has had an oversize impact on the world. Perhaps the most powerful effect has been on consumers – when a product goes viral on TikTok, it becomes an instant classic. It has changed the conversation between consumers and creators. TikTok is now a legitimate way for consumers to find products, and businesses cannot afford to ignore this superhighway for consumer trends. What are a few major ways in which TikTok is changing the way we design, market, and distribute consumer goods?
Trend #1: Niche Products can Find Large Audiences
TikTok’s algorithm dynamically curates content based on interest, instead of only showing content from brands, people or hashtags that people follow. As a result, a product can find a micro niche audience. Whether it’s Dungeons and Dragons fanatics, people who play the bagpipes, competitive cookie bakers, or even miniature food creators, everyone can find content tailored to their interests on TikTok. This means that brands with niche products can target these audiences organically, through influencers and advertising on a large scale. Despite the app being saturated, all new products can find that specific niche and a product-to-market fit that simply wasn’t possible at this scale ever before.
Trend #2: Influencers Creating Product Traction
It’s not necessarily easier to build a brand on TikTok. It takes time, effort, creativity, and maybe even a bit of serendipity to have brand content get popular on the platform. However, an approach that is working for many popular brands is tapping into the incredible network of engaged influencers. Influencers on TikTok are driving massive awareness for new products and growing them faster than ever. Influencers are already creating engaging and trending content that brands can piggyback on. Whether it’s via a TikTok challenge or a video duet, influencers are adept at getting followers engaged and brands are in on this action. TikTok influencers are now a must-have for any new product launch and TikTok has even launched its own marketplace for brands to search for suitable influencers and creators.
Trend #3: Mining Trends for New Product Ideas
It’s not enough anymore to launch a new product. New products now have the opportunity to gain instant cultural fandom. A quick search for #tiktokmademebuyit reveals hundreds of products that have made a splash by going viral, launching thousands of Google and Amazon searches, and selling out instantly. Examples of TikTok’s successes include vegetable choppers, LED make-up mirrors, smart coffee tables, skincare products , and home organizational tools in every imaginable category. Marketers can use TikTok’s Trend Discovery Tool to find out what products are going viral in their part of the world, use these as customer product insights, and understand what kind of new product features and designa are likely to be popular.
Trend #4: Post-purchase Product Feedback
TikTok calls the impact its platform is having on consumers’ path to purchase, the “infinite loop”. Consumers are actively involved in discovering, researching, comparing, reviewing, and conserving products at any stage. Marketers will find that the value that TikTok adds, does not stop with the launch of a new product. There are tremendous opportunities to gather insights from reviews, post-sale feedback, and continuous engagement with customers. Brands can get insights into unique ways in which products are being used. For example, are customers using your programmable multi-color LED bike light on their pets? Is there an opportunity to include a pet collar accessory? TikTok has become a platform where brands can build meaningful relationships and have valuable conversations with consumers.
TikTok’s colossal success may be attributed to the fact that it refused to be just another social media platform and positioned itself as an entertainment platform. Its unique algorithm and hyper-relevant and personalized content gives consumers the feeling that TikTok really understands them. TikTok is a commercial and cultural phenomenon built around the way consumers already behave. Brands that incorporate this intelligence into their product design and marketing are finding that they can have a taste of this limelight too.