Will TikTok make you buy it?
The Pink Stuff, an abrasive cleaning paste for hard surfaces, “had been doing absolutely nothing for 15 years,” said Henrik Paed, managing director of Star Brands, its parent company headquartered in the United Kingdom. In 2017, it got a little boost from cleaning influencers on Instagram and YouTube. The company, which at the time sold most of its cleaning products through domestic brick-and-mortar grocery stores, began investing in social promotion, but “we didn’t know enough about it,” Mr. Pade said. said.
Then came Tiktok. “We cannot take any credit for this as a big strategic plan,” Mr. Pade said. “It happened, and we started chasing.” Videos from Pink Stuff of people cleaning kitchens, bathrooms and off-label items – shoes, car wheels – have garnered more than 250 million views in less than a year. There are some effective demos. There are many jokes.
Three years ago, Mr. Pad said, paste sales totaled about £2 million, or about $2.6 million. Last year, they raised over £25 million, or $34 million, about half of the company’s total sales. “In the UK, it has gone from a niche product to something widely stocked in retailers,” including the country’s largest supermarket chains, which still account for a large proportion of its domestic sales, Mr Pad said. In the US, however, 85 percent of sales are online, mostly through Amazon, thanks in large part to TikTok.
Stories like these suggest, with some credence, that on TikTok, anyone thing Could be the next big thing. The app that always tells you what to look for next and has no problem telling you what to buy next. Yet its version of shopping is also distinctly temporary, with a heavy reliance on Amazon, where creators are likely to go viral gold and users follow. This may feel like an unrealistic potential to an international tech group.
Features such as storefronts for brands can be understood as an attempt by TikTok to catch up to Instagram’s recent efforts to become a one-stop shopping destination. However, some indicated a desire to turn TikTok into something more free and commerce-focused, following TikTok’s Chinese sister app, Douyin, which has more than 600 million users. Brands and users on Doyin can already sell and buy products without leaving the app, and do so for millions. It has its own payment system and has begun snatching market share from China’s e-commerce giant, which it has clearly identified as competitors.
As Mr. Irigoyen described earlier this week, whether “an end-to-end shopping experience” is what people ultimately want from their social spaces, as always is an open question: perhaps the naked consumerism of #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. Tolerable only to the extent it feels organic. Or maybe TikTok is different. It is a platform that has never pretended to be anything but a machine to generate virality and monetize it and has never been ashamed to tell us what it wants us to do next. What will we lose if it becomes a mall? The best of the rest of TikTok feels fleeting, even though we enjoy it – it was always part of the fun.