Consumer research snapshot: TikTok’s active consumer base impacts ROI

Barring a domestic ban, TikTok is just starting in U.S. retail as it quietly launched its e-commerce platform state-side last year.
Elizabeth Christenson
Editor, Retail Leader
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TikTok has faced increasing scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers, who have advocated for banning the social media platform over fears related to its ownership by the Chinese company ByteDance. Still, TikTok’s 150 million U.S. consumers place it in the top five social networks used in the U.S., after Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, according to Statista.

In 2021, TikTok announced that it had reached 1 billion global monthly active users, placing it 6th in Datareportal’s ranking of the world’s most “active” social media platforms. Data published in the TikTok’s self-service advertising tools in January show that marketers could reach more than 1 billion users aged 18 and above on the platform. However, because the company only publishes advertising audience data for users aged 18 and above, TikTok’s actual audience reach rate is likely higher.

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In comparison, Meta owns four of the largest global social media platforms, all with more than 1 billion monthly active users each: Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram, according to Kepios. In the fourth quarter of 2022, Facebook reported more than 3.7 billion monthly core family product users.

Unsurprisingly, 22% of marketers globally said that Facebook was the social media platform with the highest return on investment (ROI) last year, according to HubSpot. TikTok, Instagram and YouTube all ranked second for ROI with 16% of respondents, followed by LinkedIn with 7%.

Barring a potential domestic ban, TikTok’s influence in U.S. retail is just starting, as it quietly launched its e-commerce platform TikTok Shop state-side last year. Even without its e-commerce platform, TikTok’s impact on commerce has already been clear. TikTok users, in regard to services booked online, are relatively likely to order food or book restaurant reservations online, according to Statista, followed by buying event tickets, beauty treatments, fitness and health services. More than a quarter (28%) of TikTok users also bought products because celebrities or influencers advertised them, and 17% of TikTok users are innovators or early adopters of new products, Statista reports. TikTok also jumpstarts trends that help brands and retailers reach more consumers.