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TikTok fails in Europe

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TikTok freezes commercial plans in Europe due to the failure of its commercial strategies

  • Although it was something we all suspected, no one dared to say it: TikTok’s audience in the West is very difficult to monetize. ByteDance had thought of implementing sales channels with influencers similar to those that work in China, but European eleven-year-olds don’t seem to be very interested in buying travel, electronics or makeup online.

Despite its success in terms of audience -it has already surpassed 1 billion users- and the viral power of many of its contents, not everything is successful in TikTok. At least this would be demonstrated by the fact that TikTok is paralyzing its commercial plans in Europe.

It has been running pilot tests in the UK with live streaming broadcasts of commercial content under the “On Trend” event that have resulted in poor ratings and failed sales. Some of the tiktokers involved in such events have withdrawn from such commercial actions in order not to be splashed by the failure due to the low audiences obtained.

Meanwhile, TikTok had planned to launch Shop, its online sales platform in countries such as Germany, Spain, France and Italy, before arriving in the United States in 2023, but those plans have now been put on hold. For the time being, the social platform is concentrating on continuing to test strategies until it finds one that achieves success in the UK.

Do images of Chinese influencers recommending makeup while the screen fills with pink hearts seem childish? You’re not alone: so do the vast majority of Western users.

The Chinese consumer market is quite backward and there it is easy to achieve multi-million dollar sales with silly products through powerful online promotion. The Chinese reverential fear of the omnipotent power of the Communist Party makes criticism, in general any criticism, socially frowned upon and products that in the West would be trashed in five minutes on Twitter (censored in China) and laughed at on YouTube unboxing channels (censored in China) are taken for granted.

So they have no choice but to continue to limit their business plans to China. There, online shopping events led by influencers are a success for ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok. In China, the local version of the platform, Douyin, has managed to turn these commercial events into real audience and sales successes to the satisfaction of brands, advertisers and the content creators themselves.

Or maybe there is no way to do business with that audience.

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