TikTok is reshaping the ways brands market to youth

Cassandra has fully explored the birth and evolution of social media-driven consumer movements in our recent The Culture of Influence macrotrend The Hive Mind. For brands, it’s paramount to harness these hive minds intelligently. One of Cassandra’s directives to do so is to seed hive-minded behavior by giving consumers a fun social challenge (tied to your brand, of course) to generate grassroots and ultimately more engaging marketing. Check out the following brands that are already starting to do this via the bona fide social media phenomenon TikTok.


Last fall, e.l.f. Cosmetics became the first brand to compose an original song for a TikTok hashtag challenge. After tapping upcoming talent to create the song—titled “Eyes Lips Face” after the brand’s name acronym—as well as TikTok influencers to promote it in their videos, 18,000 inspired users uploaded videos using “Eyes Lips Face.” The #eyeslipsface videos have collectively been viewed over 1.2 billion times. What’s more, the campaign performed so well that e.l.f. extended “Eyes Lips Face” into a full-length song and made it available on Spotify. e.l.f. was smart to make available its own branded, original content for a TikTok challenge, and the combined entertainment value and authenticity around the tie-in was a hit with users and viewers.


To celebrate National Avocado Day, Chipotle seeded a #GuacDance challenge to fans via TikTok. The challenge-cum-campaign called for avocado fans to create videos showcasing their best avocado-themed dance moves. The outcome was wildly successful: during its six-day run, Chipotle fans uploaded 250,000 #GuacDance videos (which garnered 430 million video starts), making the #GuacDance challenge one of TikTok’s highest-performing branded challenges in the U.S. Chipotle was smart to harness the rabid popularity of TikTok to promote its offerings via this campaign, especially as the retailer dished out 800,000 sides of guac on National Avocado Day—a feat that the brand credits to the promotion.


Brands who don’t know where to start when turning to TikTok for marketing can take inspiration from Kind, which recently became one of the first snack brands to establish itself on TikTok. Soon after joining, Kind seeded the consumer hive mind: the brand promoted its Simple Crunch Bars by encouraging users to produce their own content emphasizing the crunch of the snack (and to really get creative in doing so). The campaign demonstrates the value of TikTok’s platform and its users’ behavior. Indeed, Kind, Chipotle, and e.l.f. are some of the first brands attempting to seed hive-minded behavior in this way, but this new evolution of brand-consumer co-creation is only poised to grow in importance.