TikTok has slowly shifted into a storefront for counterfeits and piracy. Want to know more? Keep reading this article!
In its origin, TikTok was a social media platform created with the goal of posting short videos with simple trend-setting choreographies. However, almost 7 years after its release, this platform has definitely seen the pass of time.
How does this affect brands you may ask? As all and any social media platform, brands can benefit from it to increase brand awareness and visibility. However, so can their counterfeits.
It would be naive for someone to rule out TikTok as an important factor when it comes to consumer behavior, considering it is the leading social media app in terms of weekly hours users spend on it (9.5hrs) in the United States alone (Statista, 2023).
Users spend over 1 hour a day on this app, with a tailor-made algorithm. Whether they enjoy dancing videos, daily routine vlogs or humorous clips, TikTok has it all and knows what its users want. Additionally, its in-app marketplace makes users even more susceptible, as brands sometimes use popular creators to promote their products.
Why do we spend so much time on TikTok?
One might think its extremely personalized algorithm is the key, however, this app has many other factors that come into play.
We are in a digital era where we can have whatever we want in a matter of seconds at the touch of a button. Translated into social media terms: short, dynamic and alluring videos. In addition to this, TikTok not only is more user-friendly compared to other social media apps, but user-centric - we will touch on this in the following section.
These three factors are the ones luring users to spend countless hours scrolling through hundreds of videos a day.
Consumer behavior is changing, and TikTok is no stranger to that. This younger platform is now aware that any of its users are both its audience and creators, which is why every aspect within the platform is adjusted to them.
In other words, TikTok is considered user-centric as the user is considered an active factor that plays in this equation. The user’s demand is used as the guide for the platform’s algorithm, and the user’s experience is key to making the necessary changes to said algorithm.
Therefore, TikTok carries an array of algorithms which, like people themselves, are unique from one another. This platform hosts not a target audience, nor a niche audience, it hosts each of its nearly 2 Billion users (Statista, 2023) according to each and every individual detail they offer to this social media network.
TikTok’s main audience is comprised by the age group of 18 to 24 year-olds, meaning the new adults. This age group is presumed to be more vulnerable to marketing tactics, whether it is through exploiting insecurities and the desire to fit in.
Furthermore, in the US alone, teens and adults aged 15 to 24 have a median household annual income of $51,645 (Statista, 2021), turning them in the lowest-income bracket, only behind those 75 and older. In this sense, counterfeits’ lower price, compared to original products, creates the perfect opportunity for counterfeits to present themselves as preferred products to be bought.
The Creator Marketplace emerged in 2019 as an influencer marketing platform for brands to establish collaborations. This platform enables brands to connect with high-class influencers and all the basic tools to create a campaign.
In addition, this platform is completely free and gives brands and influencers access to the different data and tools without cost. So, how does TikTok benefit from this? Easy: they take 5% commission on sales.
TikTok’s policy clearly bans the advertising and sale of counterfeits, as well as the sale of prescription-only medicines. However, there are many fakes that pass this screening and make it onto the marketplace, deceiving consumers.
The “Baddie on A Budget” (add link to my first article: Fakes: Why Gen Z supports counterfeits) trend is essentially a glorification of counterfeits. With over 163,8M views, this trend exemplifies how regular people use high-end luxury counterfeits to portray a higher status without going over budget.
However, these savings come at a cost, as promoting counterfeits is a type of trademark infringement, illegal in most countries. In addition to this legal penalty, promoting such products directly finances criminal organizations that are also guilty of child labor, human and even drug trafficking, among other illegal activities.
In addition to counterfeit products, TikTok also constitutes the main source of piracy for illegal streaming services where, in 80% of cases, the user is led to external pages where they can watch the live event or the 24/7 host channel.
Whether it is knowing or unknowingly, counterfeit promotion harms us all. Original brands suffer their sales losses, consumers lose quality and trust towards the brand, and society as a whole suffers the negative effects in terms of environmental, economic and human capital.
Therefore, in order to stop these fraudulent activities, we must firstly educate the public regarding the production process of counterfeits and their consequences. Secondly, enforcing legal tools to take down these posts, accounts, and even businesses that promote and sell counterfeits.
At Smart Protection, we work alongside several social media platforms and marketplaces, including TikTok, allowing us to eliminate IP infractions within minutes.
Entities like ours help companies protect their brand through our Ecommerce Monitoring and Brand Protection solutions, with the help of AI and human monitoring. As a result, both brands and consumers can keep peace of mind in terms of the authenticity of their products.
If you want to protect your brand online and see how we can help, don’t hesitate to Request a Demo!