A New York candy shop stocks soft jelly candies in fruit shapes that were virally shared on TikTok.

Last year, there were a lot of videos showing people biting into fruit gummies’ plastic cases and squirting artificially colored jelly out of their mouths. It’Sugar candy store staff urged the chain to stock up on the gummies, and TikTok was incorporated into the company’s sales strategy. In stores, there are signs featuring the logo of TikTok. Products from TikTok account for 5% to 10% each week.

Chris Lindstedt (assistant vice president of merchandise at It’Sugar), said that it’s an incredible number. The company has around 100 locations.

TikTok is a popular app that allows users to create and share dancing videos. It has 1 billion users around the world. In an effort to attract TikTok’s young users, national chains have set up TikTok sections in their stores. These are similar to “As Seen On TV”, which sold infomercials and products.

Tables at Barnes & Noble are marked with #BookTok on signs. This hashtag is a recommendation hashtag from TikTok and has helped push paperbacks higher up the bestseller list. Amazon also has an “Internet Famous” section on its website that lists products that any TikTok user would recognize.

The hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt received more than 5 million views on TikTok. A grab-bag of products has been a surprising hit with the app: leggings and purses, cleaners, feta cheese, and even leggings. Video of a baked feta pasta recipe sent the white cheese flying from supermarket shelves earlier this year.

It is difficult to figure out what will become the next TikTok sensation. It remains to be seen how TikTok decides who sees what. Companies often get caught unaware and rush to buy up advertising on TikTok or give creators free stuff.

“It was a little bit a head scratcher initially,” Jenny Campbell, chief marketing officer at Kate Spade, said. She recalls when searches for “hearts” spiked on Kate Spade’s website earlier in the year.

It turned out that the culprit was a TikTok clip of 60 seconds posted by Nathalie Covarrubias, 22. In a parked vehicle, she gushed about the pink-colored purse she just purchased. Other people copied her video and posted TikToks showing them buying the bag or wearing it with different outfits. The purse, which was $300 in the heart shape, sold quickly.

Covarrubias, a makeup artist based in Salinas, California said, “I couldn’t believe it because i wasn’t trying to promote the bag.” “I was so happy and excited about the purse and its uniqueness.

Covarrubias were given free items by Kate Spade in return for posting another TikTok once the bag was back in stock. This video was classified as an advertisement. This made what was originally a Valentine’s Day purse available year-round in different colors and fabrics such as faux fur.

TikTok is a strong purchasing tool for Gen Z, because creators are authentic, rather than Instagram where it is all about posting the best selfie. Hana Ben-Shabat is the founder of Gen Z Planet. Her advisory firm focuses exclusively on the generation born between late 1990s to 2016, which is a cohort that literally lives on TikTok.

She said that users trust her recommendations and that she believes they are trustworthy.

Before marketers understood their potential, Instagram, YouTube and other platforms allowed people to connect with each other or make funny videos. TikTok could lose its authenticity if more advertisements and shopping options flood the app. Ads that are too obvious or incongruous can be a problem, according to Colin Campbell, an assistant professor of Marketing at the University of San Diego.

Influencers paid to promote brands are becoming more adept at selling products to their followers. He said, “They feel like we are our friend, even when they aren’t.”

Channah Myers, 21, a barista from Goodyear in Arizona, purchased a pair $50 Aerie leggings. She saw several TikTok videos where women claimed that the cross-banding at the waist gives them an hourglass figure. Myers stated, “It’s funny. I shop regularly at Aerie and had no idea they existed before I saw them on TikTok.”

The Aerie leggings became so popular on TikTok in 2020 that the retailer expanded the design to include biker shorts as well as tennis skirts and bikini pants. All of these can be found on Aerie’s website by searching “TikTok”. It is not clear how many leggings were sold.

TikTok is preparing to challenge Facebook, as well as other tech companies such Snapchat. According to eMarketer, the $37 billion U.S. market for social commerce is dominated by Instagram and its parent company Facebook. This number will more than double by 2025 to $80 billion.

TikTok started testing last month a way for brands that the app can allow them to open a shop and then send customers to their websites to place orders. TikTok is hinting that there will be more. It could eventually look more like Douyin in China, TikTok’s sister app. Products can be purchased and sold within the app, just as you can on Instagram and Facebook.

“Over the last year, we’ve seen a new type of shopping experience come into life that’s been driven to the TikTok Community,” said Sandie Hawkins (TikTok General Manager). She works with brands to get them on the app to buy ads and helps them increase sales. “We are excited to keep listening to our community, and build solutions that help them find, engage and buy the products they love.”

This includes The Pink Stuff from Britain, which isn’t available here last year. TikTok made it viral with videos of people using it for cleaning rusty pots or greasy countertops. This led to the brand crossing the Atlantic. According to Sal Pesce (president and chief operating officer at The Pink Stuff U.S.), the product was launched in the U.S. on Amazon in January with 1.3 million tubs sold each month.

He said, “I’ve never seen anything similar to this.”