Feb 02 2021
During the pandemic, TikTok saw the biggest gains in young users—and it’s among the top social networks that young consumers are using the most, with young females driving its popularity. And in the last year, the platform has evolved beyond dance trends and challenges into a much bigger space full of experts giving advice and users getting into digital activism.
It’s also become a popular spot to learn about today’s hottest products and must-haves. The hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt currently has a whopping 1.3 billion views, and is full of videos featuring different products from various industries with many users leaving both their positive and negative reviews of the things they found on the app. YPulse’s Retail’s New Reality report found that 24% of 13-39-year-olds impulse bought something they saw in their social media feed during COVID. As social shopping becomes more popular as well, TikTok has been developing ways for users to directly shop on their app with the addition of their “Shop Now” button, which has been in testing since last year.
Creators with big followings have played a big part in driving the viral popularity of products they’ve shared online: our influencers and celebrity research found that 49% of 13-39-year-olds have purchased something an online celeb recommended. In recent months, companies have ramped up their marketing strategies on TikTok to promote new releases and catch the attention of young customers, but just as often it’s TikTokers themselves who are driving items to viral fame with organic posts, reviews, and hashtags. Here are four examples of products that went naturally viral on the app—and then sold out:
The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
One of TikTok’s first sales-boosting success story showcased the power of the platform’s Duet feature to create convincing before and after videos—which have become a staple of prodcut reviews. Early last year, TikTok user @kaelynwhitee posted a split-screen “before and after” video of herself using The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% peeling solution, that received over 600K likes—and gave the brand even better results. In the clip, she claims the $8 serum gave her “clear skin” and “helps with acne scars and uneven skin tone.” Her endorsement is apparently pretty convincing: According to a representative of the Deciem-owned brand, the viral video directly contributed to a surge in sales of the product: 52K units in just two weeks. Other TikTok users started sharing videos of the bright red skincare product, and the hashtag #ordinary currently has 112 million views. Since The Ordinary’s viral fame, other affordable skincare brands from Urban Skin Rx to Cerave, have found fame on the app, with little or no marketing investment. In the same month, a microinfluencer’s video about Urban Skin Rx’s Even Tone Cleansing Bar hit five million views, and hashtags like #UrbanSkinRx and #UrbanRx racked up 30 million views in a week leading to “a sales surge five times the average rate.” Since quarantines began, young consumers’ have been taking their skincare more seriously: YPulse’s beauty and personal care report found that 91% of 13-39-year-olds have purchased personal care products during COVID, while 51% of 13-39-year-old females have purchased beauty and skincare products as retail therapy during the pandemic.
NYX’s No-Smudge Shine Loud Liquid Lipstick
Skincare products aren’t the only thing that have gone viral on TikTok. At the end of December, NYX Cosmetics went viral for their $12 “no-smudge” Shine Loud liquid lipstick which promises to not transfer or bleed onto glasses, napkins, or faces. TikTok user and makeup artist Stephanie Valentine (whose @glamzillaxo account has 37.7k followers) shared a video of herself (which received 1.4 million views) applying a “pinky orange shade” of the brand’s Shine Loud liquid lipstick, and telling viewers to let it dry for 90 seconds before adding the shiny topcoat to seal in the color and kissing her fingers “to prove that the color stayed on her lips with no transfer.” As face masks have become part of people’s daily lives, the product has become especially popular with customers looking for “mask-proof” products to wear underneath their covering. As a result, both the brand’s official site and Ulta Beauty’s site have sold out of several shades of the item. Drugstore beauty and skincare brands in particular have been prone to viral fame on TikTok: Maybelline’s new Sky High Mascara just debuted two weeks ago, but has sold out at Ulta Beauty four times thanks to users on TikTok. The hashtag #skyhighmasacara has garnered 97.8M views. Meanwhile, CeraVe keeps selling out of items thanks to skinfluencer Hyram Yarbro who touted their products on TikTok (and eventually got a partnership with the brand) and other users.
Aerie’s Offline Real Me High Waisted Crossover leggings
Since the start of the pandemic began, young consumers have been fueling the loungewear and athleisure industry as they turned to more comfortable clothing in quarantines. At the end of last month, user @hannahschlendker (who has 834.3K followers) uploaded a video of herself dancing, which has 5.5 million views. But the thing that was drawing viewers were the light blue Aerie Offline Real Me High Waisted Crossover leggings she was wearing. Soon after the video went viral, online demand reportedly “hit the roof and they sold out very quickly.” Following Schlendker’s video, other users began sharing clips of themselves wearing the brand’s leggings with some giving rave reviews—and they became so popular that users on other social platforms like Twitter began talking about it too, prolonging their sold-out status. Their popularity has continued, with restocks of the leggings continuing to make headlines. Meanwhile, the platform also recently became obsessed with a pair of “Butt Scrunch Leggings” from Amazon. According to Refinery29, the popularity of the under-$25 Seasum brand leggings has been percolating for some time, but Lizzo sent them into viral fame last week with a twerking video in the ruched-seam item that has earned over 230K likes. The hashtag #scrunchbuttleggings has over 56.8K views on the platform.
FlexiSpot’s Cycle Desk Bike
With more people working from home, they’re also making time to work out at home as well—and in some cases, they’re combining the two. According to ClassPass’s 2020 Trend Report, they reported “a giant increase” in the number of people who claimed to workout at noon, with lunch the most popular time to exercise during the workweek—“a first in the history of the ClassPass report.” And one working out while working product that TikTok users are “freaking out” over is FlexiSpot’s Cycle Desk Bike, which literally serves as both a work desk and a bike and can be purchased —but is still sold out thanks to its social media fame. It initially went viral on the app when user Jules Nguyen (who has 160.2K followers) shared it on her page—receiving 2.3 million views. The hashtag #flexispot currently has 42 million views. Her post, which was part of a partnership with the ecommerce giant, caused the cycle desk bike to sell out within the first 24 hours of uploading, while the remaining inventory on Flexispot’s site was out of stock the following day and was forced to go into backorder until the end of the year. According to the tracking from her affiliate link, Nguyen sold around $12K worth of bikes on Amazon. Since gyms and fitness studios have closed, “working out while working from home” products like bike desks, treadmill bikes, and “office chair-friendly ellipticals” being pushed into “massive mainstream appeal.” Retailers like Amazon, Target, and Dick’s Sporting Goods saw a “massive boost in sales” of 170% for basic fitness equipment like weights, kettlebells, mats, props, and other affordable workout accessories. Interest in at-home workout gear during lockdowns reportedly spiked by 500%, and YPulse’s health and fitness report found that 36% of 13-39-year-olds who have been regularly working out have used at-home workout equipment.
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