From URL to IRL; How is TikTok changing the way people access what’s new

Largely forged in the fires of lockdown, where early TikToks documented the mundane lows, and the creative highs of what we did for entertainment, it is no surprise that TikTok thrives on a sense of community and authenticity. This lifeblood imbued the entertainment app with a more powerful form of virality- one that can raise songs from the dead, challenge our perceptions of reality (remember ‘real vs cake’?!), and dismantle our habits. Now TikTok trends are going further, migrating from the platform, and creating opportunities for innovation and growth between historically siloed sites.

These impressive feats are bred by bridging the gaps between entertainment and social platforms. For example, an iconic scene from Netflix’s Stranger Things garnered newfound interest in Kate Bush’s ‘Running up that Hill’. This was amplified through its trending status on TikTok, delivering a jolt to Spotify and YouTube trends, which saw 9,000% growth and 100 million views, respectively. Another example is the Bridgerton fascination, which spawned many TikTok videos, one of which- the unofficial Bridgerton musical – has since become a Grammy winning album, garnering over 10 million Spotify streams in its first two weeks.

Whilst TikTok has been fundamental to facilitating the migration of ideas between platforms, we can see the beginnings of the entertainment app crossing a much larger gap with wider opportunities for both monetisation and the shaping of consumer habits- the shopping border. TikTok has leveraged its strengths of authenticity and trust, as well as a focus on entertainment, to reimagine the linear retail path to purchase as an infinite loop, where people not only discover products but actively participate and review them, engaging a wider audience in a shopping experience led by the community.

TikTok is not alone in reaching for the social commerce opportunity- other entertainments and social platforms are also making plays: witness Snapchat’s AR feature and Facebook’s Shops.

The shopping border is strategically important to cross as it creates seamless movement between being entertained to shopping within one app. TikTok exemplifies this: consumers can watch their favourite influencer shop, and buy alongside them, all without leaving the app.

The lines between entertainment and selling have been increasingly blurred by the extension of social commerce. In this new world, we are left to wonder how brands and consumers are going to navigate this internal choice between entertainment and shopping- will there be no entertainment without shopping or shopping without entertainment? Moreover, will consumers see this buzz as an opportunity to extend the creative, community led experiences offered or a pollution of their authentic entertainment experience?

By: The Value Engineers

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