Gen Z is buying and searching on TikTok

Gen Z is nearly as comfortable buying stuff on TikTok as they are on or Instagram. That’s according to a report released by Insider Intelligence, which examined TikTok’s ambitions as a shopping platform.

Top line: Gen Z adults making purchases on social networks are most likely to use Instagram (71%), followed by YouTube (68%), TikTok (68%), Facebook (62%), and Snapchat (55%), according to a survey conducted by Jungle Scout included in the report.

They are also using TikTok (43%) more than search engines (38%) like Google or Bing to search for products online, the survey found. TikTok is currently testing search ads to capitalize on the fact that people are treating it like a search engine.

So what? TikTok wants to be a marketplace, and the company has been rolling out features for users and advertisers that promote a more retail-centric approach to the app.

It’s been a bumpy road so far:

Anyway, back to the report: US audiences haven’t gravitated to live-shopping in the same way as audiences in China. Insider Intelligence expects live-shopping to be a $235 billion market this year, accounting for 45% of the country’s social commerce sales. Meanwhile, more than 80% of US adults didn’t attend a shoppable livestream in 2022, according to a Morning Consult survey. This doesn’t seem to bode well for TikTok Shop in the US; the report describes live-shopping as its “crown jewel.”

“TikTok is a must in brands’ and retailers’ social commerce and advertising strategies, especially those targeting Gen Z. But for most merchants, TikTok Shop may not be worth the investment right now,” Insider Intelligence concluded in the report, calling it a “nice-to-have” and not a “need-to-have.”

Unrelated, related: TikTok Shop is testing a visual search function tool outside the US that would let users take a photo and search the platform’s shopping inventory based on the image, Adweek reported.


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