How TikTok’s community-focused, creator-driven, and conversational platform is altering the linear buying path.

At Econsultancy Live last month, TikTok’s Simon Hofmeister, head of vertical, ecommerce, presented several major patterns on the platform and what they suggest about the future of commerce.

Hofmeister, whose prior positions includes seven and a half years in performance marketing at Asos, emphasised the importance of entertainment in commerce and how TikTok’s community-driven, creator-driven, and conversational platform is altering the traditional purchase experience.


A 2020 Ofcom survey found that one-third of our waking hours are spent viewing television and internet video. This is the backdrop for the use of TikTok, which, as Hofmeister points out, is primarily an entertainment platform while being labelled by many as a social networking platform. “This is a sound platform. You do not “check” TikTok; instead, you watch it. It does not function as a secondary screen.”

According to a Kantar survey, one-third of users report spending much less time viewing TV or streaming movies as a result of TikTok, further demonstrating that the site is not a second screen but a completely immersive experience.

The power of enjoyment is applicable to ecommerce, which might be monotonous or monotonous. Worldwide, one-third of individuals want business to be more enjoyable (GWI Bridging the Dots study 2021), and Hofmeister feels this places TikTok in an advantageous position to bridge the gap between entertainment and commerce.

TikTok’s aim is to encourage creativity and create joy, and according to research commissioned by the company, 39% of users feel uplifting content is crucial to their purchase decisions. Importantly, TikTok achieves this by humanising their material. In Hofmeister’s words, “It’s created by real people, for real people, about real people.”


“Real individuals talking about real things and genuine experiences may link items in a very intimate way to other real people,” he says.

There is an abundance of content on TikTok that demonstrates how ordinary people are sharing the narrative of a certain company and its goods in a favourable, entertaining, or humorous manner.

Hofmeister provides examples such as a customer discussing their visit to an Ikea store, the creation of short, humorous movies, and the creation of something resembling an omnichannel experience, as well as unboxing videos and product evaluations.

Despite the fact that video reviews are not new to social commerce, one study reveals that they are influential on TikTok, with 40% of respondents stating that product demonstrations affect their purchasing decisions. Due to the significant number of TikTok users who generate content, returning to the platform to evaluate purchases alters the conventional buying path.


Hofmeister asserts that the usual linear purchase path does not exist on the platform. People find things using a hyper-relevant algorithm based on their preferences and interests. Consumers find the items, they contemplate purchasing, and the company may speed this with adverts or by paying for expanded reach and optimising for particular aims. So, it’s extremely common for [customers] to return, leave a product review, and participate in product-related discussions. And then proceed to locate further items, creating this loop effect.”

The popularity of the ‘TikTokMadeMeBuyIt’ hashtag, which had about 31 billion video views at the time of writing and is an integral element of the product review culture on the site, demonstrates the propensity for short, funny, humanised video to generate sales.

“The hashtag travels outside the platform, too, which is extremely unique and exciting,” adds Hofmeister.


“If you think about conventional advertising, it often interrupts what you’re doing, and the material may seem slightly different from what you’ve been viewing just before or after,” explains Hofmeister.

This relationship is altered in three ways on TikTok: the move from customers to community, influencers to artists, and invasive to conversational marketing message.


TikTok transforms solitary shopping into a social activity, since the platform is filled with what Hofmeister calls “plenty of specialised locations for individuals to meet others who enjoy what they like, and who are talking about what they like in short form, snackable, amusing, video format.”

Consumers on TikTok are more inclined to purchase a brand’s items if they can access the community created around them, with popular examples including ‘#booktok,’ ‘#foodtok,’ and ‘#gymtok.’


Hofmeister explains, “The classic influencer methodology is to discover individuals who already have a following, people who connect with them and their material, and then get them to recommend your things.”

“When we speak about creators, we refer to individuals who may or may not have a following, but who are involved with a community that is relevant to the brand. Yet they are ordinary folks who are really skilled at creating brief, interesting material. And getting into these specific creators on TikTok can boost business.”

Hofmeister offered a case study on lounge underpants. Lounge’s experiment with creator-led, humanised, short-form creative was far more effective on TikTok than the studio-produced, high-production-value video they would typically generate. While leveraging TikTok’s Spark Ads, a native ad format that allows marketers to promote organic creator postings, the company witnessed a 72% increase in transactions and a 72% decrease in add-to-cart CPA (cost-per-acquisition).


While TikTok is a platform for humanised material, businesses are expected to appear in the same manner, be genuine, and connect with people. Hofmeister discusses corporations “being bold in their contacts with consumers and reacting to their video requests.”

This involves replying to consumers who ask inquiries as well as joining current conversations about their goods and brands in order to keep people informed in a natural and enjoyable manner.

Considering that two-thirds of TikTok’s one billion users think they are likely to make a purchase while using the network, there is little doubt that the platform is experiencing a natural blend of entertainment and commerce. According to Hofmeister, “People formerly viewed TikTok as a platform for ridiculous dance videos; we’ve gone a long way since then.”