TikTok has become a ‘billion-person focus group’ that can make or break your business with one viral video

TikTok has become a ‘billion-person focus group’ that can make or break your business with one viral video

By: Posted: June 23, 2023

composition of two tiktokers
Consumers are looking for trusted voices for product recommendations and ideas on how to spend their money, and TikTok is quickly becoming the place businesses go to take cues from potential customers.

  • Companies are looking at TikTok for cues on what consumers are interested in buying.
  • A review can now completely change the trajectory of a business if it goes viral on TikTok.
  • One retail exec called the app as “a billion-person focus group,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

A viral video on TikTok can make a product fly off of shelves, or leave consumers questioning the quality of a company.

TikTok is quickly becoming the app where millions go to for reviews, product recommendations, and travel guides. As a result, companies are finding themselves at the mercy of trends that emerge on the platform, The Wall Street Journal reported. That can in turn dictate what products or menu items companies build into their future businesses. 

Corey Robinson, chief product officer for Abercrombie & Fitch, described TikTok to The Journal as “a billion-person focus group.” Abercrombie & Fitch catapulted back to popularity in part because of TikTok. 

“Every single merchant and designer is looking at TikTok,” Robinson said.

Profitable infamy

TikTok’s platform can turn an obsession into a Walmart-stocked item. 

Fame is just as easy to achieve as infamy on TikTok where videos can quickly — and unexpectedly — go viral. Last year, users became obsessed with Pink Sauce, a condiment created by TikToker Chef Pii and a wave of taste tests and safety concerns ensued.

@rd_eats LMAO That’s it. 😂😭 They Tasted Good Tho😉💕 #pinksauce #wings#BigInkEnergy ♬ candy remix prod by bamt – BAMT

At first, people were intrigued and desperate to try the uniquely colored sauce. Then, as Pii sent out the first batches, questions were raised about the nutritional facts on the label by those who received their bottles of sauce.

Pii accused naysayers of “trying to build clout” off her name in a July interview with Insider, but a food safety specialist voiced concerns about the product’s pH and water activity.

Pink Sauce’s online popularity ultimately led it to a major retailer.In January, supplier and distributor Dave’s Gourmet announced its partnership with Pii to put Pink Sauce on Walmart shelves.

Influencers have become trusted voices who call the shots

TikTok influencers have a lot of sway in what they say they use as well as what they don’t use. 

 Earlier this year, a trend of “deinfluencing” emerged on the app as users shared products they wouldn’t recommend to a friend.

@katiehub.org Replying to @.sam_ross THIS MIGHT BE A HOT TAKE HAHA #fyp #deinfluencing #dior ♬ original sound – katie


In videos that gained millions of views, TikTokers shared products they “hated,” and told followers what not to spend their money on. The deinfluencing hashtag has over 700 million views as of Wednesday afternoon.  

The trend is indicative of people who are choosing to shop more ethically and thoughtfully to avoid overconsumption, research site Influencer Marketing Hub wrote. About 78% of US consumers said that a sustainable lifestyle is important in a study conducted by NielsenIQ and packaged goods company McKinsey & Company.

And a negative review of a product can lead to the downfall of a small business. In May, a restaurant owner went viral after food reviewer Keith Lee gave his chicken shop low reviews

Lee described the food as “more wet and soggy than juicy” in a video that gained over 12.4 million views in a week. Although Lee assured his followers that he had “zero malicious intent” in posting the review, his videos have a history of completely changing the financial trajectory of a business.

While some applauded Orlando-based Chicken Fire owner Kwame Boakye for saying Lee’s review didn’t matter, others criticized the restaurant.


An influencer’s endorsement can also catapult sales for a major company. In late 2022, Chipotle employees were hit with waves of complicated orders and unhappy customers after Lee and TikToker Alex Frost posted viral videos trying a menu hack for quesadillas.

As a result, Chipotle turned the popular customization into a regular menu item, and there was a spike in quesadilla orders. 

“During the launch, we nearly doubled our quesadilla business and had two of our top digital sales days of all time,” CEO Brian Niccol said in an April earnings call.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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