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Monday, March 4, 2024

Why TikTok Shop is revolutionizing online consumerism

A dive into influencer marketing 

 

By MAYA KORNYEYEVA — mkornyeyeva@ucdavis.edu

 

After rocketing to major success as a social media platform, TikTok recently announced the addition of TikTok Shop: an online shopping platform curated for TikTok users. The idea behind the platform is to give influencers and small businesses a way to easily market their products to users, while at the same time aiding customers in the discovery of new products and subsequent ease of purchase.

Before the launch, businesses operating on TikTok would simply redirect potential customers to their website via a link in their bio. Now that TikTok Shop is a readily available feature, you can simply click the tab and scroll through a page of thousands of listed products.

What makes TikTok Shop so unique is the “video review” format that is crucial to persuading potential buyers. While other online shopping websites like Ebay and Etsy share similar features to TikTok Shop — such as photos, reviews, product information and star ratings — they don’t contain the social aspect of influencer marketing.

By definition, influencer marketing is strategic product promotion through the use of individuals with a large online following, who aim to create positive media around a certain product. And TikTok is full of them — almost every other video that I receive on my feed is an influencer hyping up a product on TikTok Shop.

Why is this method of marketing so effective? The answer comes down to building credibility. Influencers spend their entire careers aiming to reach a large audience; to do so, they often make themselves relatable, funny or otherwise charismatic. These traits, along with the material they are making content about, help create a personal link between the audience and the influencer. If you follow your favorite Youtubers for example, you learn a lot about them and continually support them with your views, forming a kind of relationship with them (even though you may never have spoken to them before).

This credibility can be applied to influencer marketing. When someone you follow shows you a product or service that they personally enjoy, it doesn’t feel like heartless spam. Rather, you are hearing a first-person account from someone you “know,” which is much more influential than hearing it from a stranger.

On another, slightly more morbid note, TikTok shop also caters to a very specific audience: mainly millennials and Gen Z. Gen Z in particular is a generation of young adults who were exposed to technology and online shopping at an early age. Since purchasing products online is simple and easy — with a few clicks being all it takes to order something right to your door — TikTok businesses capitalize on compulsive purchases made by algorithm-addicted teens. With trends like “#TikTokmademebuyit” becoming increasingly popular on the platform, more and more influencers are profiting from selling nonessential items to a generation raised on standardized overconsumption.

As TikTok Shop is beginning to gain traction, there has been a subtle yet very important change to the way some companies are now approaching marketing their items. For instance, Amazon has recently introduced a new “scroll” feature in their app called Inspire. Similar to TikTok, Inspire allows users to view a mixed feed of short videos and photos that both advertise and review the products available on the site.

With a company as large and powerful as Amazon attempting to incorporate a TikTok-style social media feed, the future of online shopping seems to be on the verge of a transformation. I predict that, as technology keeps rapidly evolving, so will digital commerce in the upcoming years.

 

Written by: Maya Kornyeyeva — mkornyeyeva@ucdavis.edu

 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.

 

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