How Big Brands are Using TikTok to Reach New Customers

September 4, 2020

TikTok has become not only a fun having social media app, but it’s leaking with brand opportunities.

The one-year-old platform, which allows users to make short, looping videos with special effects and musical overlays, is booming with more than 500 million monthly active users. Not only has TikTok surpassed Twitter and Snapchat in popularity but it’s also less saturated with ads than its older counterparts. The visual app—which allows users to edit and share 15-second videos with built-in filters, effects, and music—has truly shaken up the marketing world with its unprecedented virality.

What Is the Target Demographic for Your Business?

As millennial users flock to this trending platform, so do marketers and brands. Enterprise brands are looking to leverage the app to reach Gen Z buyers, who are estimated to represent 41% of TikTok users and a whopping $143 billion dollars in buying power, according to a study by Barkley.

If you, like many of us, are thinking of exploring ways in which you could include TikTok into your marketing strategy, here’s how three big players are testing out ad campaigns.

Brands that are using TikTok for Marketing:


Challenges are particularly popular on the app, and Chipotle decided to adopt this structure. They created their own video challenge called the #ChipotleLidFlip encouraging users to try to flip their lids over their Chipotle bowls. The campaign amassed over 276 million views on over 110,000 video submissions submitted within the first week. Chipotle tapped celebrity influencer David Dobrik, who has 5.8 million followers on the app, to lead the charge and prompt other users to join in the fun.

Celeb TikTok influencer David Dobrik amassed 472k likes; TikTok


The popular grocery store chain was the first brand to test the eCommerce feature that allowed users to shop for its products within the app with a fun and effective campaign. The brand created a challenge called #TransformUrDorm to reach Gen Zers preparing for college. Because such a large percentage of TikTok users fall within the college-age range, the campaign was a huge success, generating over 854 million views and allowing users direct access to Kroger’s website.

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren, the official outfitter of the 2019 US Open Tennis Championships, was one of the first luxury brands to use TikTok’s shoppable Hashtag Challenge Plus feature to showcase its collection for the tournament. The top three video creators who had the highest engagement were awarded free US Open gear. Today, the hashtag has over 742 million views. Similar to Chipotle, the full-funnel campaign raised brand awareness and measured everything from engagement to the number of sales driven through the app.


With a whopping 5.1 million fans, the NBA’s account mixes game highlights with music montages and inspirational quotes.

Their Instagram channel, on the other hand, focuses purely on basketball games and highlights. The NBA’s TikTok posts show a lighter side of the organization. For example, they’ll often post videos of players working out dramatically to music, dancing on the court, or adventures of team mascots.

Elf Cosmetics

Elf Cosmetics launched a TikTok campaign in August 2019 after learning that videos tagged #elfcosmetics had a collective 3.5 million views before they were even active on the app. Seeing an amazing opportunity, the brand created an original 15-second song called “Eyes Lips Face” and tapped a handful of influencers. The results were shocking. Almost 20,000 TikTok videos were created using the “Eyes Lips Face” song with a massive 2.3 billion collective views. This month, Elf announced that it had turned “Eyes Lips Face” into a full-length song available on Spotify.

Strong TikTok Marketing Strategy

Why should we care about TikTok? As digital marketers, we are constantly on the lookout for new trends and opportunities to reach our client’s target audiences on whatever platform they are adopting next. TikTok has opened a channel for brands to not only reach new audiences in a unique way but also engage with a more diverse set of content creators and influencers.

We know that not every strategy will resonate on every platform. To launch a successful campaign on TikTok, it’s crucial for us to understand what works for our clients and what may not.

TikTok is fairly new, so to launch a successful campaign we need to look at what is already working based on what the audience wants to see. For TikTok, that’s creating quick, entertaining, and relevant content that users will enjoy in small doses. Because of how TikTok’s algorithm functions, any regular user can reach viral status. It’s crucial to be creative and original on TikTok and not to reuse content. The whole point of the app is to be original, so think outside the box, and create something that users will be eager to take and make their own.

While the videos may be short, they require a knowledgeable team to become a marketing success.

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