Advertisers Are Investing in TikTok Shops Despite Mostly Tepid Results


Advertisers are investing more in TikTok Shop two months after the products launched widely in the U.S., despite mostly lackluster results.

TikTok Shop launched officially in the U.S. Sept. 12 after months of testing. The tool lets millions of daily active users buy products directly from the app without having to go to a brand’s website.

Cosmetics brand BK Beauty joined TikTok Shop three months ago after investing ad spend in the single digits on the platform. Since joining, the company has more than doubled revenue, and TikTok Shop sales are exceeding all existing website sales, said co-founder Paul Jauregui. Earlier this month, BK Beauty became one of the top five beauty brands on TikTok, partly spurred by several viral videos about the company’s products that linked to TikTok Shops.

“Overnight, [TikTok Shop] has materially changed our business,” Jauregui said.

But other brands have not had such positive results, with most saying sales are lackluster. Still, two other ad buyers are increasing their investment in the channel to gain first-mover advantage in what they anticipate will be a growing source of consumer demand. For now, the platform is offering incentives such as ad credits, customer coupons and covering fulfillment charges, as well as offering a variety of promotions to gear up for Black Friday.

“We’re willing for it to be clunky, and we’re willing for it to be smaller,” said Darren D’Altorio, vp of social media at Wpromote, who said two clients are live on TikTok Shop, with eight working on getting their shops set up. “The work is worth doing. Consumer behavior and preference will change over time to favor this kind of frictionless experience.”

Mental-health-focused journal company Zenfulnote has generated roughly 45% of its sales from TikTok Shop, according to a TikTok spokesperson.

TikTok has significantly invested in Shop in the U.S., hoping to capture social commerce revenue and replicate the successes in some Asian markets. Experts predicted a social commerce boom following the rise of ecommerce during the pandemic, but the channel has been off to a slow start.

Finding success in virality

Before using TikTok Shop, BK Beauty gave products for free to TikTok creators who would then make organic posts, increasing search and website traffic, but not necessarily correlating directly to sales.

“There was still a lot of friction to get someone to transact,” Jauregui said.

The brand was particularly inspired to try the channel after sales driven by a video of Melissa Murdick, a creator and Selena Gomez’s celebrity makeup artist, posted a video with BK Beauty in August that linked to TikTok Shop.

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