The way that consumers discover and buy products has changed for good and brands need to act fast if they want to get in on the action. The power of influence is now with the community at large – so how can brands harness the power of community commerce to drive results?
When TikTokers started posting about a little-known dessert called Little Moons, it wasn’t long before the whole TikTok community wanted a piece of the action and took to the aisles of their local supermarket to hunt them down. #LittleMoons gained 19.5m views, sales shot up 700% and retailers stocking the product also seized on the trend through organic and paid content.
While Little Moons is a standout example, it’s just one of many, with other brands benefiting from the same principles in their activities on TikTok. When Starbucks recognized that the TikTok community was already talking about creating its own bespoke Starbucks drinks, the coffee house went a step further and launched two limited edition beverages ‘inspired by TikTok’, using Spark Ads and creator videos to build hype with the community. The organic impact was huge, adding 31,500 new followers to Starbucks’ brand profile and the ads generated 11.5 million impressions.
Commerce is moving towards an experience that entertains, enables and connects – all of which comes together under ‘community commerce’ – which allows for product discovery and transaction at rapid speed. As the case in point from Little Moons and Starbucks show, brands can move quickly too if they deploy the right tactics.
The rise of community commerce
Community commerce was born out of lockdown. Since the 74% surge in online shopping in 2020 and 85% of people purchasing products or services after seeing them reviewed on social media, consumptions habits have changed drastically. Post-pandemic, people want things, and they want them now; groceries to your door in under 10 minutes, the ability to buy things direct while they watch a live stream video – basically anything that shortens their path to purchase.
“The path to purchase is now led by spontaneous product discovery and inspiration, meaning every moment on a platform is an opportunity for conversion for those who are able to attract and retain their audience’s attention,” says Kris Boger, general manager, global business solutions UK at TikTok.
Community plays a much greater role in purchasing decisions today. The amount of weird and wonderful content uploaded every day to the platform shows that people just want to be entertained – in fact, it’s the very reason 75% of people go to TikTok. When creator Emily Mariko kickstarted the #salmonricebowl TikTok trend, the hashtag hit 600 million views in a couple of weeks and sent sales of Itsu’s seaweed thins soaring + 108%.
“Community commerce’s blend of community, entertainment and shopping creates a unique product discovery experience, that drives purchase decisions influenced by authentic social communities rather than one aspirational individual,” adds Boger.
How brands can leverage community spirit to drive impact
As the popularity and influence of digital platforms rapidly grows, all these factors combined have seen community commerce emerge as an opportunity for brands to fit seamlessly into their digital experience. Entertainment is going to be a key factor – and it drives action.
So, with the power of influence now with the community at large versus individuals, how can brands harness this power to drive results? Boger sees two key opportunities: sub-culture / micro-communities and creators.
“We see almost every product and passion having a micro-community of TikTokers talking about it,” says Boger. “Believe it or not, there’s such a thing as #Cleantok – and it’s surprisingly addictive. And in our house, we’re regularly trying out the latest #Foodtok trends to mixed success. If brands want to be part of a trend, they have to understand what people are saying about it already, and these micro communities are a great place to start. ”
#Cleantok and #Foodtok aside, there’s everything from #Booktok to #Spiritualtok to #Beautytok to #Edutok to #Plantok, giving brands a real opportunity to embed within these communities. And to drive authenticity in these communities, creators are a brand’s superpower.
“Creators are the life blood of TikTok,” he adds. “They enable authenticity and have the ear of the community. The TikTok Creator Marketplace gives brands the marketing tools they need to collaborate with creators based on industry, budget and business goals. ”
You only have to look at what could be considered an unlikely collaboration between TikTok trainspotter Francis Bourgeois and ASOS, who is now the face of Gucci’s latest campaign.
The way that consumers discover and purchase products has changed for good and they are taking action faster than ever. Community drives discovery and entertainment drives action. If brands want to be a part of the future of community commerce, they must be willing to listen to the community to determine micro-trends and use creators to create the best impact. Just like Little Moons did.
The best way to know what’s trending on TikTok, is to be on TikTok – but to stay on the pulse of what’s popular on TikTok right now by region, visit the TikTok Creative Center. All of this and more will be explored further at TikTok’s proprietary event TikTok Download: Creators, taking place on Wednesday April 27. Click here to register to attend.