TikTok Increasingly Being Used to Search for, Buy Products

September 26, 2022

This article is included in these additional categories:

Customer-Centric | Digital | Industries | Retail & E-Commerce | Social Media | Spending Trends

Social commerce is believed to be a top digital commerce channel of the future, and while its pandemic-related ascent may have slowed a little, TikTok seems unaffected by any headwinds. In fact, a new report from eMarketer forecasts that TikTok will exceed Pinterest for the first time this year in the number of US social buyers, while narrowing the gap with Instagram.

The firm estimates that there were 13.7 million US social buyers for TikTok last year (ages 14+), trailing Pinterest’s 15 million and far behind Instagram’s 37.6 million. This year, however, the number of buyers on TikTok is projected to almost double to 23.7 million, easily surpassing Pinterest’s 15.9 million and working its way closer to Instagram’s 41 million. Next year, it will narrow the deficit again, expanding to 33.3 million buyers, within 10 million of Instagram’s 43 million.

Facebook will remain the top platform for social commerce during the forecast period, rising from 63.5 million buyers this year to 69.4 million in 2025.

New survey results from Jungle Scout support eMarketer’s assessment. In its quarterly report for Q3 2022 [download page], Jungle Scout finds that almost half (48%) of US adults would be very likely (22%) or likely (27%) to make a purchase directly from TikTok, up from one-third (33%) in Q2. Although likelihood to purchase from each social platform increased quarter-over-quarter, none grew at the same pace.

This trend is being driven, unsurprisingly, by Gen Zers. Some 71% say they would be likely to make a purchase directly from TikTok, on par with the 72% who would from Instagram and 71% from YouTube. By comparison, YouTube and Facebook are the platforms that older generations are most likely to purchase directly from.

Meanwhile, Jungle Scout’s report also turns up another interesting finding: consumers are increasingly turning to TikTok to search for products. More than 1 in 5 (21% of) respondents pointed to TikTok as a destination for starting their search when they shop for a product online, almost double the percentage who said the same just a quarter earlier (20%).

Although again not to the same extent, other social platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Instagram also grew as search methods, leading Jungle Scout to note that “social media channels like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram play a growing role
in consumers’ online product searches.” It’s likely that this trend is again being driven by youth: recent research found that Millennials’ “search and discovery methods are branching out,” with more than 4 in 10 having searched for something in the prior month using social media. The same report found that social media posts and sponsored posts on social are the fastest-rising drivers of product discovery for Millennials.

For more, check out Jungle Scout’s report here.

[Editor’s note: it’s worth noting the real data privacy and national security concerns presented by TikTok usage in the US, as eloquently detailed by Scott Galloway here and Juan Mendoza here. Marketers considering using the app should fully consider these concerns before proceeding.]

About the Data: The Jungle Scout results are based on a survey of 1,025 US adults (18+).

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