Adina-Laura Achim
Dec 16, 2019

Why western luxury brands need TikTok

TikTok is the ultimate destination for quirky short-videos, which makes it an ideal platform for brands to create video content to reach a possible younger consumer base.

A Burberry campaign
A Burberry campaign

Gen Z truly loves TikTok (or Douyin in China). Who knew that this unconventional platform, where users around the world sing, dance, and lip-sync for attention would gain an audience of almost a half a billion users in its two year existence, and a +237% monthly growth rate between 2018-19? And where 66% of its users are reportedly under the age of 30? Certainly not Western luxury brands, who have only just started to explore TikTok as a marketing tool to target and expand their younger consumer base in 2020.

Given this, we take a look at several important reasons why creating engaging content for TikTok could be the marketing solution for many Western brands.

  1. Creativity may appear in generous supply on Tik Tok, but is it?

In fact, all big networks — Facebook, Instagram, Weibo, and WeChat — appeared groundbreaking and rebellious at their inception. Moreover, most of these social media sites started with a younger active user base that matured together with the network. At some point, however, the teenage audience on TikTok will come of age, so their youth shouldn’t divert brands from the platform.

On the other hand, Bain & Co. highlights that Chinese Gen Zers will become “an increasingly powerful force in the luxury industry.” And according to Federica Levato, a partner at Bain, Gen Z “are the ones to watch. They are a huge spending force and they are impulse buyers.” Evidently, the prosperous and luxuriant Chinese Gen Zers are the driving force behind Gucci’s success — a company that masters the youth jargon. In fact, Fast Company highlights that last year, 62% of Gucci’s $8 billion in sales came from the under-35 consumers.

All in all, young consumers might appear more impulsive and less knowledgeable about the real meaning behind luxury, but the changing nature of luxury has catapulted this consumer base to the forefront; hence, brands can no longer thrive without them. For this reason, even if the content on TikTok appears too out of the box or rebellious for luxury brands, it’s not the consumers who will have to change but the brands.

  1. Video content is key to a brand’s success

Something marketers preach repeatedly is that video content compliments storytelling, including sales and ROI. And TikTok is the ultimate destination for quirky short-videos, which makes it an ideal platform for luxury brands to create video content to reach a possible younger consumer base.

According to GlossyBurberry, “became one of the first luxury labels to run both paid and organic campaigns on Tik Tok across the U.S. and the U.K.” And The Drum reports that instead of launching products in brick-and-mortar stores or online first, Burberry has resorted to a digital first strategy. In fact, the British company turned to Instagram, WeChat, South Korea’s Kakao and Japan’s Lin to release unique and “exclusive” products.

Considering that the company reported a 4% increase in sales, it could be argued that the strategy worked in Burberry’s favor. The “Master the Thomas Burberry Monogram Challenge” urged users to recreate the new “monogram motif with their hands to unlock a new lens.” The campaign also generated 57 million views for the brand.

  1. Tik Tok transforms conservative luxury players into digital-first brands

The Burberry case shows that Tik Tok can bring new life into conservative heritage retailers. In fact Burberry has rebranded itself as a youthful, cool brand that is both super luxurious and entertaining. This transformation has brought Burberry closer to its fan base while creating an immersive customer experience.

  1. Localized marketing

Few brands are lucky enough to have Burberry’s or Gucci’s marketing budgets. The vast majority of luxury brands are struggling to optimise their marketing budgets while trying to go global. For SMEs who are struggling to take their products and services abroad because they lack multi-million dollars marketing campaigns, TikTok may be an affordable marketing approach.

Tik Tok has “successfully mastered the art of localized video marketing, resulting in high engagement rates in countries like India and China,” states Medium. In fact, TikTok’s cultural strategy is helping Western brands publicize their content in the country of their choice while also connecting the retailer to local talents — a double win. “Our localization strategy helps us in encouraging users to create relevant and local content along with incorporating global trends in localized flavor,” says Raj Mishra, business head, TikTok India.

Considering the benefits of creating content on TikTok and the boost in popularity of the social video-sharing app in the West, more and more international luxury brands are starting to overcome their current privacy, security, and marketing concerns and are beginning to experiment with TikTok videos. And since everyone who’s anyone is already on TikTok, brands can no longer ignore using it as a marketing tool. In fact, Jia Tolentino wrote in The New Yorker that “Arnold Schwarzenegger was on TikTok riding a minibike and chasing a miniature pony. Drag queens were on TikTok, opera singers were on TikTok, the Washington Post was on TikTok, Dogs I Follow on Instagram were on TikTok” and so was every self-respecting teenager. Next up, Western luxury brands.


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