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With Amazon rushing to solve its Covid-19 logistics troubles, TikTok has emerged as an unlikely channel for driving beauty sales for the e-commerce giant.
An increasing number of beauty brands, particularly independent labels, have opened official store fronts on the platform, as Amazon’s prominence has become more acknowledged within the beauty industry during the current global crisis. In spite of shipping delays during the initial weeks of coronavirus lockdowns in the U.S., delivery times have resumed as normal for most companies that have adopted Amazon as a channel to drive revenue. In particular, Amazon has been making progress gaining approval from Gen-Z shoppers. A 2019 survey from CPC Strategy found 72% of female Gen-Z consumers use Amazon to discover new products, while Piper Jaffray’s 2019 survey of US adolescents found Amazon to be the fifth most popular sales channel for beauty items.
K-beauty company’s I Dew Care and I’m Meme brands link to their official Amazon stores from their TikTok accounts, and each line adds #amazonfinds, a popular hashtag, to their TikTok videos. “For us, the No. 1 traffic driver is TikTok,” according to Memebox founder and CEO Dino Ha, speaking about the company’s Amazon presence, which he said has continued to grow during the pandemic despite shipment delays. Ha said the brands launched on both TikTok and Amazon around the same time, and sales have continued to grow during the pandemic despite shipping delays. I Dew Care’s uploaded their first TikTok video in December 2019, and the numbers have grown organically to 360,000 followers.
Ha disclosed that the brands chose to direct customers to Amazon because “we thought that was the easiest,” noting, “I think we’ll keep it that way because it’s working right now.” The business may experiment with alternatives in the future, he said. “We’re still trying to understand what the TikTok audience in the community is all about and what they prefer.”
The Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, gives the option of linking to Alibaba’s Tmall and other channels through specific buttons embedded in the videos. This may give an insight into what could be coming down the line for the U.S. version of TikTok.
However, an Amazon-first TikTok strategy is still unusual for beauty brands, most focus on driving traffic to their own brand sites. Lady Gaga’s Haus Laboratories, which launched exclusively on Amazon last year, links directly to the brand site, despite research showing Gaga’s young millennial and Gen-Z utilizing Amazon as a shopping channel. Some brands are using influencers to drive sales on the platform and are linking to Amazon from TikTok through curated affiliate links.
Beauty content on the Amazon platform has exploded in popularity. The #amazonfinds hashtag has received over 720 million views on TikTok, with its top posts containing beauty gadgets like ring lights, face rollers and scalp massagers. Deciem’s The Ordinary recently saw a 426% sales spike in its AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution after the product caught on among the platform’s acne-positive teens.
According to an Amazon representative, beauty and personal care sales have almost doubled year-over-year in April, with skincare and bath products being the top performing categories. Nail polish sales have also more than doubled, and blue and pink hair dye — favorites for TikTok egirls — have been selling well according to the company.
As issues with logistics and shipping delays emerged at Amazon during the initial weeks of the pandemic, many beauty brands previously counting on Amazon for fulfillment switched to merchant-fulfillment. BioClarity, an acne treatment system selling on Amazon, converted to merchant fulfillment in March, but changed back to Amazon fulfillment at the end of April. Memebox decided to stay with Amazon fulfillment and persevere through the long delivery schedules.
“We are rapidly increasing the number of items we deliver with One Day and Two Day free shipping for Prime members, by adding capacity in our network and hiring 175,000 new employees,” according to sources. “We removed quantity limits on products our suppliers – this includes beauty – can send to our fulfillment centers.”