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Female Gen Z consumers are the most likely to buy products because of TikTok, particularly clothing and beauty, Morning Consult data shows.

TikTok is playing a key role in holiday shopping decisions this year. The short-form video app’s popularity, especially among young consumers, has driven sales and pushed popular products out of stock. Now, experts say TikTok is a key part of how many consumers decide what to buy this holiday season, both for themselves and others.

Social media platforms, including TikTok, drove 5.72% of total web traffic to retailers in the Top 1000 in November, from 5.63% in November 2022, based on Digital Commerce 360 analysis of Similarweb data. The Top 1000 database is Digital Commerce 360’s ranking of the largest North American online retailers by web sales. That represents a fairly large range, with significant differences by category.

Jewelry and apparel retailers receive far more traffic share through social media than the average, 12.96% and 11.15%, respectively. Both categories have grown traffic from social media year over year, up from 11.26% and 9.04%, respectively. Health and beauty, one of the most popular categories on TikTok, ranked third in social media referrals, with 7.38% of web traffic in November, increasing from 5.92% in 2022.

How is TikTok impacting holiday shopping?

Social media virality is a key factor in consumers’ purchasing decisions, says Ellyn Briggs, brands analyst at Morning Consult.

“Roughly half of Gen Z adults (46%) and millennials (50%) say a product going viral is important to them when considering whether or not to purchase it,” she says, citing decision intelligence at Morning Consult.


TikTok, more than any other app right now, is synonymous with viral marketing, according to Briggs.

“TikTok users have proven themselves to be voracious consumers,” Briggs says. These users have “notably higher purchase consideration” for most brands than U.S. adults as a whole, according to Morning Consult data. And that consumption extends beyond online shopping to purchases in stores, too. TikTok users are more likely than the general public to say they enjoy shopping in stores. They’re also 7 percentage points more likely to be Amazon Prime members than all adults, Morning Consult found. 

TikTok is essentially a shopping guide for consumers who are already primed to spend more than the average person, both in stores and online, Briggs says. It’s also a form of brand discovery for Gen Z, a group more likely to say it is open to purchasing from new brands than any other generation, at 77%.

Those findings are echoed by Insider Intelligence, which reports that 53% of U.S. adults between 18 and 29 years old use TikTok for product discovery. Those consumers are more reluctant to actually purchase through the platform, however. Just 8% of that age group said they would buy through a TikTok shop if it was an option.


Who is using TikTok for shopping?

Young people are the most likely consumers to make purchasing decisions based on TikTok, Briggs says.

“TikTok is one of Gen Z’s most-used social media platforms, and it’s their favorite for following influencer content,” Briggs says.

Within that cohort, there’s a sharp divide by gender, with women much more likely to use TikTok and make purchases based on that usage. 75% of Gen Z women use TikTok, according to Morning Consult’s data. 62% of Gen Z men use the app. TikTok has grown 21% among Gen Z since Morning Consult conducted the same study in 2020.

Female Gen Z TikTok users are most likely to engage with “haul” videos, in which a creator shares products they’ve purchased. These videos are the most likely type of content to drive a purchase from a Gen Z consumer, per Morning Consult. 42% of Gen Z consumers say they’ve purchased a product based on viewing a haul video. Nearly a third of Gen Z TikTok users say they’ve purchased a product because of a “get ready with me” video and “routine” videos, both of which typically show a creator using skin care and beauty products.


TikTok users are particularly prone to purchasing clothes and beauty products shown on TikTok. 49% of female Gen Z respondents said they’ve purchased clothes because they were sponsored by an influencer, and 53% said the same about beauty products. It’s no surprise that those two categories are some of the most popular on TikTok, Briggs says.

How are retailers reacting?

Retailers are paying attention to TikTok as a channel to drive sales thanks to the platform’s undeniable impact.

“TikTok has proven itself as a must-invest media channel over the last few years, at least for any brands trying to reach a young audience,” Briggs says.

She points to e.l.f. Cosmetics (No. 950 in the Top 1000), Charlotte Tilbury, Crocs (No. 104) and Skims (No. 218) as a few examples of retailers that successfully grew brand awareness, favorability, and sales through TikTok.


32% of respondents in a Digiday poll of 400 brand and retail professionals in November 2023 say TikTok is “extremely valuable” for revenue. That’s up from just 8% in 2022. 60% said TikTok will play an important role in holiday marketing, up from 55% in 2022. Those retailers are putting money behind their answers: 78% say they allocated funds for TikTok marketing in Q3 2023, up from 54% in Q1 of the same year. 35% of retailers also said they’re purchasing ads on TikTok, an increase from 24% last year. 

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