How TikTok is changing Gen Z shopping habits. - MG Empower
Written by - Daniel Shale

How TikTok is changing Gen Z shopping habits.


With over 1,000,000 active users, TikTok has stood out in the past years as a key space for entertainment and performance in the digital realm. The platform’s engagement rates of almost 18%, especially for micro-influencers, turned out to be higher than for competitors like Youtube – 1.63% – and Instagram – 3.86%, which translates into great opportunities for brands to reach and build different communities.

By adding a shopping feature, TikTok positions itself in the social shopping landscape, sparking attention to the opportunities connecting content, authentic interactions and cultural impact.

Following the platform’s influence on content production and algorithms dynamics, TikTok’s shopping approach has been also reshaping the way its main target audience shops: Generation Z.

The power of TikTok.

Since TikTok’s creation in 2017, when companies Douyin and merged, the platform raised extreme levels of popularity – which boomed significantly during the pandemic. It has now established a solid audience and its own roster of stars, who gather millions of followers and views – staying competitive with giants such as Youtube and Instagram. TikTok is also supported by a tailor-made algorithm system designed to understand users’ interests and behaviours.

In 2021, Forbes estimated that Addison Rae earned over $8 million on the platform alone. Considered one of the most successful personalities on TikTok, the influencer has disclosed the result as a combination between sponsoring brands and launching owned products. This led her to also make the “Forbes 30 under 30” list for social media influencers that year.
On top of that, TikTok’s assertive approach to engagement and video content production has also influenced the development of its competitors, accelerating the establishment of short videos as the key tool to connect to audiences. The launch of Instagram Reels in 2020 is a great example.


Gen Z is shopping on TikTok.

Social media platforms have been working to embrace the e-commerce feature, helping to increase not only brands’ engagement, but also revenue. On top of this, it’s helped to support creators in leveraging their partnerships and entrepreneurial skills.

When it comes to TikTok, the shopping feature is supported by the fact users rely on the platform’s authentic nature to interact. Recent stats show 72% find TikTok ads inspiring, especially because of their organic appeal – ads that don’t seem like ads. Considering 47% of the channel’s users are between 10 and 29 years old, TikTok has been hugely contributing to shifting Generation Z’s connection with brands and relationship with shopping.

According to the platform, 61% of TikTokers tend to purchase products advertised by brands on TikTok. The reason behind because users relate better to products whilst they’re being entertained. As Gen Z is highly influenced by the authenticity with which content is daily produced and published on TikTok, the shopping feature sets a huge potential for monetisation.

In addition to this, the capability of shopping inside TikTok supports creators’ relationships with their audiences, strengthening the bonds with younger and heavy users of the platform. TikTok’s shopping feature enables these digital talents to tag products on organic posts, leading to specific landing pages and add a shop tab on their profile showcasing all the products synced to e-commerce websites. Besides easing the process, it encourages audiences to purchase and develop a deeper connection with influencers and brands – without leaving the app.

Gen Z’s purchasing power has also been at the forefront of what’s trending on TikTok. With over 3 billion views, the #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has become a global clasp for this generation to turn social media reviews into a tool to support them in spending money smartly, uncovering a new way of discovering and going after new releases. Amazon has even created a page to feature the most popular and favourite products recommended by the hashtag, proving its cultural impact beyond the social realm.

TikTok has become a go-to hub for Gen Z to discover new products and get the excitement they had been missing from brands on other platforms. Somehow, they found this excitement in the live digital experiences – including the shopping ones. TikTok Live Shopping has impacted the online behaviour of this age range, offering them the opportunity to see, interact and purchase items showcased by their favourite creators and brands in real-time. By combining entertainment, engagement, and e-commerce, TikTok has been changing Gen Z’s perception of buying into a fun and must-join moment.

How can brands reach Gen Z on TikTok?

One of the key challenges for brands when positioning on TikTok is developing a strategy that connects their businesses’ goals with the organic environment offered by the platform – especially when aiming to nurture a stronger relationship with Gen Z.

In that sense, influencer marketing has become key, as it feeds into social media while also offering an authentic approach to brands’ messages, better resonating with target audiences. Almost half of Gen Z consumers – 44% – have made a purchase decision based on a recommendation from an influencer.

Along with more sustainable engagement, influencer marketing is especially effective for brands to deal better with Gen Z’s attention span. Considering the first 2-3 seconds are the most crucial, creators’ content production skills can secure audiences for longer – increasing the chances of having them react to a product.

Creators also support brands by amplifying the reach of their communication, influencing their followers’ purchasing behaviour by expanding the virality of specific content – positioning them on trends like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. The beauty brand The Ordinary is a good example: one of its skincare items has gone viral on the platform not only once, but twice, as a result of videos posted by digital creators which massively resonated with TikTok Gen Z users.

Key takeaways.

  • Most TikTok users are part of Gen Z, meaning the platform has a significant impact on this generation’s preferences and behaviour.
  • TikTok’s shopping feature is supported by the fact users rely on the platform’s authentic nature to interact and engage – which leads to more conversions.
  • Gen Z’s shopping habits have been transformed not only by the platform’s shopping features but also by the cultural impact of viral content pushed by trends like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt.
  • Influencer marketing stands out as a key strategy for brands to access Gen Z’s preferences and interests on TikTok.

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