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Gen Z and TikTok Are On an Upward Trajectory; Is Your Brand Ready?


TikTok is not your mother’s app.

It’s not supposed to be. And yet, brands need to understand the allure and the audience. It won’t be long until TikTok users are mothers (and fathers.) They’re already wowing the social media universe in the news and on smartphones.

A tacky yet tantalizing app, TikTok has torn up the social media marketing model. All with genius algorithms and endless scrolls of 15-second dance videos. And if brands don’t get in sync with what’s streaming there, they’ll miss out on the rising demographic.

Due to our relationship with GlobalWebIndex, an innovative and leading market research SaaS company we at The Brandon Agency have been able to gather some insightful data on Generation Z, whose birth years fall around the late 1990s to mid 2010s. Here, we explore TikTok in its influence on Generation Z. The app with the blurry logo shares an upward trajectory with the world’s newest demographic.

Built while the first Gen Zers were still in elementary school, TikTok baffles generations that struggle to grasp it.

What is TikTok, anyway?

TikTok used to be called musical.ly. Like the defunct app Vine before it, TikTok provides an endless stream of video content. Most of it young people dancing and singing, using it as an outlet for personal expression.

The appeal: a more personalized experience than legacy apps can provide. One light on political wrangling and inflammatory posts. You see only what you like in TikTok. Imagine that condition on Facebook or Twitter.

Gen Z and TikTok continue to grow. They’re fused together by an audience that likely missed the lifespan of the video app Vine. Vine was the TikTok for Millennials. Twitter ended Vine in 2017 over its creators’ refusal to monetize ads – a fate that could still become TikTok’s.

Not that TikTok isn’t exploring ways to remedy that.

American monster retailer Walmart partnered with TikTok recently. They pulled off an hour-long live stream during the past holiday shopping season. The event highlighted favorite clothing from TikTok creators available at Walmart. All within the app.

That event’s success could provide a preview of the future. It became an opportunity for high-profile TikTok personalities. Michael Le (@justmaiko) and others revealed their favorite Walmart fashions during the event. TikTok users could buy those items through the app.

“We’ve shortened the distance from inspiration to purchase by making it shoppable,” Walmart Chief Marketing Officer William White said on Walmart.com.

‘Just here to watch’ on Tik Tok?

Lizzie Gustafson is a Media Coordinator at The Brandon Agency. She admits to being a TikTok user. At the upper end of the age in Gen Z, Gustafson says she doesn’t post her own videos but watches others’.

GWI data suggests the majority of users are on for entertainment. In the process, TikTok influencers introduce users to new ideas, music, and products.

“There are many users who are sponsored to promote products,” Gustafson said. “Others will show off products in their routines even though they are not being endorsed. TikTok has introduced me to many new brands and products.”

She lists apparel and clothing lines such as Aerie Cross Over leggings, Lash Lift, and Loving Tan. None of the products she’s purchased as a result of TikTok had sponsorship, she says.

“Tiktok users will explain products,” Gustafson said. “This shows me how good or bad a product is, and if I should buy it or not. Anything I have bought as a result of TikTok is not something I would buy usually. But after seeing how well it worked, I couldn’t resist.”

25% of Gen Z and Millennial users in the U.S. and U.K. tap the app to discover new music. And 33% follow specific singers or bands. Benee, Lil NasX, and Sam Fischer have arrived on the music scene thanks to their TikTok presence.

Data shows Gen Z is into rap, indie pop, and hip-hop most. TikTok has pushed music streaming services such as Spotify to react. The result: Spotify is testing a feature that will look a lot like TikTok with short videos.

How other platforms have responded

Nothing successful goes uncopied.

As with Spotify’s response, Facebook rolled out Instagram Reels. Reels hosts extended videos that users can post in the stream of photos and shorter videos. Twitter introduced Flitter, posts that disappear in 24 hours.

What these platforms unveil might not matter much.

In Q3 2019, Gen Z’s use of TikTok outside of China rose by 19 percentage points. Lost in the Gen Z tidal wave: Millennials (15% gain) and Gen X (11% gain) are also discovering TikTok.

Where does The Brandon Agency land in all this?

The Brandon Agency has explored TikTok for many of its clients. One notable success has been with FIREDISC.

FIREDISC, a line of portable propane grills based in Texas, was part of a Q4 launch – to successful results. The engagement provided 98.5% new traffic to FIREDISC’s site. Used mostly as a top or middle portion of the funnel tactic, The Brandon Agency retargeted users on other platforms once they visited the site.

The result: Users coming from TikTok spent an average of more than 20 seconds on the site.

“That indicates good quality traffic for a first-time visit,” said Courtney Olbrich. She’s Associate Media Director at The Brandon Agency. “And the bounce rate was low as well. We were happy with it as an avenue to reach potential new consumers that we haven’t found elsewhere. We have to do that in order to grow the brand over the long haul”

Ready to cultivate business in this rich new environment? Don’t miss out on the impact TikTok can have as you market to Gen Z.

At The Brandon Agency, we’re eager to create a strategy with you to maximize your reach. Contact us today and start the conversation.