Every year, starting in November and running into December, the holiday gift guides run rampant. But this year, more young consumers are turning to TikTok for their holiday shopping ideas as an informal alternative to the official guides put out by retailers and consumer publications.
The #christmaswishlist2021 hashtag on TikTok has been viewed more than 34 million times, #christmaslist2021 has 10 million views and #christmas2021 has more than 800 million views. Many of the videos tagged under these hashtags are set to “Here Comes Santa Claus” by Gene Autry or “Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande. And they show a montage of desired products, mostly focused on apparel, accessories and electronics. A survey of some of the top posts under the hashtags shows a few common brands. Converse, Jordan, Lululemon, Ugg and Alo Yoga are among those shown in multiple videos that have been liked more than 300,000 times apiece.
The gift guide videos of Leah Williams (@leahsgiftguides) who has 487,000 followers, highlights Lululemon and Dior, among others.
Last year, the pandemic-fueled boom in online holiday shopping — as opposed to shopping at department stores and malls — led to a huge boom in gift guide use. Sites like New York Magazine’s Strategist and the New York Times’ Wirecutter saw a 690% increase in traffic to their holiday gift guides, according to data from Similarweb.
For brands like Kate Spade, which has bags featured on a number of popular TikTok gift guides, the unplanned and user-generated conversions from TikTok are just as powerful as planned campaigns and paid posts.
Kate Spade CMO Jenny Campbell told Glossy in June the brand has seen “an incredible surge in organic performance” in the last year, noting that the #KateSpade hashtag has been used more than 100 million times by TikTok users other than the brand.
“Even before we started our account, TikTok was a platform where we were receiving a tremendous amount of organic love, whether that be with #christmaswishlist2021 or other trending style moments,” said Sejal Shah Miller, CMO of Converse. “While TikTok is viewed as a massive platform, we see it as a patchwork and celebration of smaller, niche communities.”
According to a 2020 TikTok survey, 80% of users who bought something on Black Friday said the purchase was motivated or inspired by TikTok, and 40% said they bought a specific product they saw on TikTok. A McKinsey survey from the beginning of November found that 87% of Gen-Z consumers are planning to use TikTok to find holiday shopping inspiration.
While that organic content is great, it’s harder to control than content posted directly by the brands. Kelly Nishimoto, founder of Cute Booty Leggings, which is behind a product dubbed “the TikTok Leggings,” said it’s important to follow up when product gets recommended by an influential user, especially around the holidays.
“If we see someone posting about us and we don’t know who they are, we reach out to try and make them an affiliate and ask if we can repost their video,” Nishimoto said. “We also have employees and interns who comb through TikTok to see if anyone’s posted our product without actually identifying the brand. They’ll just [comment,] asking where the leggings are from. Although, we have to be careful not to spam people’s accounts with comments like that.”
Nishimoto said, right now, the brand works with around 30 affiliate partners on TikTok, who post about the product regularly. The company recently linked with a large influencer platform and plans to grow its number of affiliates into the hundreds.