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With TikTok under fire, brands that depend on it worry| GuyWhoKnowsThings

Amid the debate in Washington over whether TikTok should be forbidden If its Chinese owner doesn't sell it, one group is watching with particular interest: the many brands – particularly in the beauty, skin care, fashion and health and wellness industries – that have used the video app to boost their sales.

Youthforia, a makeup brand with more than 185,000 followers on TikTok, is considering moving more marketing to other platforms, such as YouTube and Instagram. Underlinings, which makes the popular Nailboo brand, was planning to use TikTok to launch a product with a major retailer in August and is now wondering if it will have to change course. And BeautyStat, which sells skin care products on the TikTok Shop, can't even fathom the idea of ​​the platform going away.

TikTok is “just too big, especially in beauty and in certain industries, I think, for it to go away,” said Yaso Murray, chief marketing officer at BeautyStat.

Companies and creators have known for years that TikTok could be at risk. But those fears seem more real now that the House has passed a bill that would ban TikTok in the United States unless its owner, ByteDance, sold it. (Since that vote last week, the bill's progress has slowed in the Senate.)

Some lawmakers in Washington believe TikTok is a spy platform for the Chinese government. Parents get angry because it is rotting their children's brains. But many businesses, large and small, credit TikTok and its group of influencers for introducing their products to potential customers, especially young people.

Retailers, whether Sephora, Walmart, Target or Amazon, have also been big beneficiaries of TikTok, said Razvan Romanescu, CEO and co-founder of Underlinings and 10PM Curfew, a firm that connects content creators with brands.

“If something goes viral on TikTok, they sell out,” Romanescu said. “So I feel like the whole ecosystem is driven by the discoverability that TikTok provided.”

For some brands, TikTok has become an integral piece of marketing strategy and sales growth. This is partly because consumers can easily digest short videos and partly because marketing on the platform is relatively inexpensive for smaller brands. TikTok store, which began last year and allows shoppers to purchase products directly in the app, it has become particularly popular among beauty and fashion brands.

“Before Covid, the beauty category was pretty flat, maybe growing a couple of percentage points each year,” said Anna Mayo, vice president of beauty and personal care at NIQ, a research firm. But during the pandemic, when consumers had more time on their hands and Zoom calls became more popular, TikTok beauty and skincare videos skyrocketed.

“Since then, the beauty industry has been focused on growth and has not slowed down,” Ms Mayo said. “TikTok is a big driver of that growth.”

New products or clothing items may be featured by people who, unlike movie stars or models, are more relatable to viewers. Quick how-to videos can show you the best way to mix and match spring sweaters and jeans or the order in which to apply toner, serums, moisturizers, and sunscreen in a morning skincare routine. Some people say they go to TikTok before Google to shop.

“The first video was a makeup tutorial, showing you how to perfectly cover acne using three products,” said Mikayla Nogueira, a 25-year-old influencer who started making videos on TikTok four years ago. “In just 60 seconds, you learned a new skill.”

That's when Nogueira had free time after her university closed classes and Ulta Beauty, where she worked, closed its stores due to the pandemic. Today she has 15.5 million followers on TikTok and regularly works with beauty and skincare brands.

While larger companies can spend marketing money on a variety of sites, TikTok offers a more affordable advertising channel than platforms like Google and Meta, which owns Instagram.

“For a direct-to-consumer business like ours, the platform is unique,” ​​said Nadya Okamoto, who began posting TikTok videos about her company's organic menstrual products in August, in the summer of 2021.

First, TikTok's “For You” feed consistently features August's videos to new consumers, not those who have chosen to follow the brand on other social media platforms like Instagram. Second, the platform allows Ms. Okamoto to be the main in-house content creator.

“Other brands spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each month on advertising, and we spend next to nothing,” he said.

When asked about a possible TikTok ban, Fiona Co Chan, CEO and co-founder of Youthforia, said: “I don't know if anything could fill the gap in the same way.”

TikTok allows Frida to talk about her baby and postpartum products in a way that other advertising and social media platforms may consider taboo, said Chelsea Hirschhorn, the company's founder. The brand came relatively late as an active user of the app (it increased its posts starting about a year ago), but it has around 123,000 followers and several videos have gone viral.

Still, Hirschhorn said, there are legitimate concerns about TikTok disappearing or changing in some way, and Frida isn't overly reliant on the app. It has figured out how to advertise both in traditional forums (it is now sold in 4,000 Walmart stores in the United States) and in more creative ways (sponsoring Jason Kelce's pregnant wife Kylie at the Super Bowl when her Philadelphia Eagles played the game). last year).

“I think it's really important for brands to have a solid, bulletproof marketing plan across a variety of media channels, both traditional and emerging, to be able to navigate any potential challenges,” Ms Hirschhorn said.

While some companies work on contingency plans for new products, others watch and hope lawmakers don't ban the platform.

On BeautyStat, Ms Murray said she was “trying not to get too alarmed by everything that's happening because I think a lot of brands would suddenly experience a big hole in their sales”. And she added: “It would be very damaging.”

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