Authentic content generated by users has become one of the most powerful forms of marketing. Period. A recent survey by web-based social marketing platform Offerpop found 85% of consumers find user-generated content (UGC) more influential than brand-created content. For brands looking to further engage and tap into Gen Z's creativity, UGC has proven particularly invaluable.
User-generated content platforms like TikTok, which allows users to create short-form videos with special effects and musical overlays, has exploded in popularity. It’s become the most popular app for making videos in 20 regions worldwide, especially among young users. Several brands have embraced TikTok with sponsored ‘hashtag challenges'. The challenges have inspired millions of users to participate with call-to-actions.
Most recently, UNIQLO teamed up with TikTok to promote UT, the global clothing brand’s special collection of graphic t-shirts that feature a wide variety of artists and pop-cultural content to bring iconic works out of galleries and museums into fans’ wardrobes.
In line with UT's brand philosophy of self-expression, users were invited to showcase their individuality by wearing their favourite UT t-shirt. Then, in a 15 second TikTok video, express how they feel when wearing it. By posting their video with the hashtag #UTPlayYourWorld during the campaign, selected participants won the chance to appear on digital screens in UNIQLO stores worldwide as well as on UNIQLO’s social media platforms.
"The marketing challenge for UT was to generate an interest in UNIQLO from young people who have never shopped at UNIQLO before," says Rei Matsunuma, director of UT and collaboration business at Uniqlo. "We realised that using paid media to introduce the UT t-shirt collection wouldn’t generate much interest with young people who have never made a purchase at UNIQLO. While t-shirts sales may show a spike in sales relative to the quantity of media purchased, using paid alone would make it difficult to generate long-term interest in UNIQLO as a brand that offers ‘LifeWear’ [the brand’s concept of 'clothing designed to make everyone’s life better']."
Instead, the decision was made to utilise the fully immersive and interactive short-form video application TikTok, which is already immensely popular amongst the target market, to get young people to share their favourite UT t-shirt with the general public. By allowing users to create and share their own ‘UT moments’, TikTok provided an opportunity for users to express their creativity and allowed the brand to build an affinity with a wide range of audiences.
The two-week campaign saw 185,000 submissions: over 95,000 TikTok users participating in the challenge, clocking in 330 million views as of July 22, 2019. Young users from far and wide attempted to out-compete each other with attention-grabbing UGC.
Three factors helped to make this campaign a success. First, the challenge—as with any UGC campaign—rides on that universal desire to be ‘liked’ and featured on UNIQLO’s own social media channels. The challenge is also one that can fit snugly into users’ existing life and behaviour patterns. And lastly, while a duet singing challenge can be quirky and fun, seeing different people mixing their creative styles adds more interest and diversity to the challenge."
As Matsunuma notes, "by eliminating the requirements for a participant to do a certain dance or pose, and simply requesting them to use the provided music and wear a UT t-shirt, a TikTok user could maintain his or her individuality.”