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Is Tiktok the New Etsy?

Shopping has taken the video platform by storm.

By: Ali Cook

A square graphic where half is of an Etsy logo and half is of a tiktok logo
Graphic By: GT Nguyen

“Buy it for only $1.00 on TikTok Shop!”

I don’t know about you, but it seems like every other video on my “For You Page” is an ad for a new product on TikTok Shop, where you can find dupes of trendy products for ridiculously low prices, like Ugg Tasman Slippers for $6.00. It seems as if TikTok has become a handheld shopping mall. 

Over the last few years, both small and big businesses have been using TikTok as a market for advertising – and it makes for a pretty good one. Everyone knows that Generation Z runs the internet, so who better to market to young adults than TikTok? All it takes is one viral video to reach thousands or millions of impressionable young adults who will see and subsequently want your product.

TikTok’s “For You Page” uses an algorithm that targets content specifically for each user, so, in business terms, the app automatically targets products for its ideal customers. 

TikTok is also full of customized merchandise. You can find products inspired by popular music artists like Harry Styles, Olivia Rodrigo, and Taylor Swift. Multiple users even created Eras Tour merch that was made specifically for each concert date fans attended, including the concert location, openers, and surprise songs. 

There are also similar pieces of media-inspired clothing from TV shows and movies. Franchises with large fan bases, like Harry Potter and Marvel, show up a lot. Recently, I’ve seen a lot of nostalgic and holiday-inspired pieces. Snoopy – the beloved Peanuts dog and man’s best friend – appears everywhere decorated in fall leaves, winter coats, Santa hats, or with his pal Woodstock. Similarly, Rudolph and his lover Clarice from the classic stop-motion animation film Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer have been all over my “For You Page” since Halloween.

These are just a few examples of the overwhelming number of products being sold and advertised on TikTok. The market of customized products used to be mainly run by Etsy, which exclusively sells homemade and vintage items. However, TikTok is a larger platform that can easily sneak advertisements into entertainment, and influencers can naturally promote these products in their content as well.  

Some businesses advertise on TikTok and then include links to their personal websites or Etsy shops. In fact, so many businesses gained popularity and success through the app that TikTok created the “TikTok Shop” in September, which features all these items in a shoppable format. 

While it is easy to find cool products and even easier to purchase them quickly, beware of the consequences that come with this ease. Accounts can be fake, and you could end up falling for a scam. For instance, I bought a fall-themed Snoopy crewneck – what can I say? It was adorable, and I’m a sucker for the fall in mid-September, but it just shipped in mid-November.

However, these scams and inconveniences are not exclusive to TikTok. My roommate unfortunately fell prey to a scam through Etsy. Her Ariana Grande graphic T-shirt – purchased for her brother – did not show up at all. 

Online shopping comes with risks, but as long as you double-check your sources, TikTok can be a great place to find unique, customized pieces. 

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