Live from TikTok, it’s Walmart!

Discussion
Sources: TikTok/@walmart, @megcusick
Mar 10, 2021
George Anderson

Walmart’s interest in TikTok continues. The retailer worked with the video platform in December and the test went well enough that it has planned a return performance to host an hour-long livestream event called “Spring Shop-Along: Beauty Edition.”

The newest collaboration between the two parties will take place tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. EST on Walmart’s TikTok channel. It will feature TikTok creators and influencers, including Gabby Morrison (@GabbyMorr) who has more than 3.5 million followers on the video streaming service.

The TikTok celebrities on the livestream will reveal and demonstrate their favorite beauty products from Walmart. Viewers of the livestream will be able to shop directly from the site by tapping on product pins from an assortment of national, private and Black-owned brands featured. Those adding items to their carts can check out at any time during or after the livestream.

William White, chief marketing officer, Walmart U.S., did not disclose in his blog post how the company’s TikTok event in December affected sales, but he did provide some metrics that help explain why the retailer is having another go at it. Walmart saw seven times more views than it expected the first time around and, in the process, grew its number of TikTok followers by 25 percent.

“We will continue to bring more shopping experiences to TikTok in the coming months by partnering with creators to highlight different products via different formats,” wrote Mr. White. “We are excited to test, learn and iterate on what’s best for users as we innovate and chart new territory in social commerce.”

Walmart’s interest in TikTok became evident last summer when the retailer teamed with Microsoft to make a bid to acquire the video site’s business in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. When that deal didn’t come to fruition, Walmart joined with Oracle to bid for a stake in TikTok’s U.S. business. The retailer was looking to acquire a 7.5 percent share in the operation and to place Doug McMillon, Walmart CEO, on the board.

The deal is currently in approval limbo as the Biden administration reviews the details and security questions about TikTok’s operation in the U.S., according to a Wall Street Journal report in February. National security experts have raised questions about data collection on American citizens by the Chinese-based company.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your assessment of the relationship that Walmart has developed with TikTok? Do you see streamed shopping events on the app becoming widely popular among retailers and consumer-direct brands?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"ANY relationship with TikTok is a good one. What started as a lipsyncing platform for tweens is now very, very legitimate. "
"Walmart betting big on TikTok? Could be huge. You know, you can’t get to greatness without nerve! Right now there is no safe bet. Good luck."
"Is there a better way of attracting and cultivating a younger audience than with one of the quickly emerging top performers in social media?"

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18 Comments on "Live from TikTok, it’s Walmart!"


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David Naumann
BrainTrust

TikTok is the fastest growing digital social community and retailers need to be where their customers are active. Leveraging social media influencers like Gabby Morrison who have a large following is a great strategy to grow Walmart’s TikTok fan base. Streaming events that feature new fashion trends and tips are great ways to educate consumers and inspire impulse shopping within social media apps. This is another example of Walmart’s innovative marketing strategies.

Jeff Weidauer
BrainTrust

Walmart is pushing the envelope with its TikTok relationship, in a good way. Anything that increases customer engagement is positive, and TikTok has enough brand awareness even for those who don’t engage to make it seem exciting. The question will be long-term impact: will TikTok events become a staple of Walmart’s marketing, or is this a novelty that will soon lose its luster?

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Livestreaming is growing rapidly in the U.S. so it makes perfect sense for Walmart to make a play in this area. One of the biggest challenges for Walmart is getting younger shoppers to buy from it online. Some progress has been made, but using a platform like TikTok helps Walmart to reach Gen Z and other younger consumers in way that it cannot do via traditional media channels.

Christine Russo
BrainTrust

ANY relationship with TikTok is a good one. What started as a lipsyncing platform for tweens is now very, very (can I stress this enough) legitimate. An open-minded approach to nascent platforms will continue to separate businesses that are modern from ones that are stale.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

The key to success on the most explosive and viral social media app, TikTok, is authenticity and creativity. Although the potential is limitless, the app’s community will reject any corporate or traditional digital marketing or advertising strategies.

Walmart is taking a sage and strategic approach to appeal to both Gen Z and the Millennials, who have come of age in a digital world. TikTok’s creators and influencers can certainly help Walmart appeal to the younger generations, as their spending and influence are only growing.

Livestreaming is absolutely emerging, and TikTok can bridge that cultural gap, as the Asian market is easily four or five years ahead of the U.S. market. It all comes down to execution and creativity with TikTok.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Walmart’s doing many things right with this partnership, as e-commerce marketing evolves as entertainment.

Real-time access to influencers is 2021’s “must-see TV.” Beauty is the perfect category, as it’s highly-visual and attracts enthusiastic online communities. TikTok’s audience trends younger, which can help Walmart engage these shoppers sooner to maximize lifetime value per customer. Featuring private labels and diverse brands is smart to inspire loyalty and reflect timely trends.

Livestreaming will grow in popularity as Amazon, Facebook and Google also invest more in social shopping.

Rick Watson
BrainTrust

I really think this is in the best interest of both companies. For TikTok to become more mainstream, it needs to keep expanding its demographic. Tiktok’s results/ROI are improving quickly for brands. For a retailer to learn how to use this successfully is a must.

I would also say this — Walmart must make its own livestreaming investments and develop its own personalities too. Paying influencers is an important component but ultimately a short-term game. Long-term the winners will learn how to develop their own new authentic online influencers similar to the way they develop their own brands.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Is there a better way of attracting and cultivating a younger audience than with one of the quickly emerging top performers in social media? Sure, the security issues need to be sorted out, but from a pure marketing and customer acquisition point of view, TikTok seems like one of the top horses to bet on.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust
TikTok’s technology is a generation or more ahead of any social media. TikTok uses AI to promote specific contents to different consumers. TikTok uses AI to calculate what content will be the best fit for the consumer. When consumers use the app, consumers do not even need to input their preferences. AI will automatically get a sizeable database of the consumers’ behaviors. The technology is so good that Facebook led the effort to get it banned in the U.S. From a business POV it would be an exceptionally valuable tool for any retailer or marketer. Additionally, Walmart is a global company. Walmart has more stores outside the U.S. than it has domestically. TikTok brings in over 800 million users a day. Surprisingly, about 50 percent are over the age of 35. There is some disappointment that Walmart could not participate in the forced acquisition of TikTok, as they saw it as an opportunity to expand their offerings beyond selling things to become a company with the scope of Amazon or Facebook or Google. That may… Read more »
Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

“Hot” digital communities come and go. Remember MySpace and Google+? But Walmart is clearly a learning organization and the insights it gains into effective streamed shopping techniques, how to manipulate streaming platforms, and how to create effective streaming content beyond transactions alone justify the relationship with TikTok. As to the second question, I’m not sure about “widely popular” but they are clearly going to grow in importance.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Yes! Walmart is a learning organization. An unusual description for a retailer.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Welcome to the new “real retail” world, where many retailers are going to make some dramatic and unwise changes to their processes of selling products. Others will make great moves. So it will be some good, some not so good. We’ll see. Walmart betting big on TikTok? Could be huge. You know, you can’t get to greatness without nerve! Right now there is no safe bet. Good luck.

David Adelman
BrainTrust

TikTok took off during the lockdowns as people were hungry for new content while at home. Any brand today that isn’t involved in livestreaming is already behind in its marketing efforts.

Does a TikTok/Walmart relationship make sense? You bet it does. These platforms have become huge in Asia, which I believe will eventually blow up in North American and worldwide. However Walmart’s desire to purchase TikTok might not go over so well with consumers as they become increasingly wary of online privacy concerns.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Consumers are always talking about privacy and always surrendering it to social media, online shopping and searches, without a second thought.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

The jury remains out for TikTok — we simply don’t know much more than that it has a lot of hype. But these efforts are likely relatively quite small for Walmart. In fact, they might get more market value from the headlines and announcement than from TikTok itself.

It’s great that Walmart is exploring the new medium. But it’s quite reasonable that they are cagey about whether or how it might drive sales.

Ananda Chakravarty
BrainTrust

Though slow to take, social media selling has been on the uptick with ~$186 billion of sales in China (2019) alone. Add to that the growth of video selling with companies like Qurate (HSN,QVC) exceeding $14.2 billion in Q4 FY20, there is definitely a convergence for social video. YouTube, etc. expands these opportunities further. For Walmart, it’s a new revenue stream that encompasses both selling as well as potentially advertising value and is large enough a market to make noticeable impact to their financials. I’m not yet sure about whether this will be a giant splash, but Walmart is smart to explore it. 100 million+ users is usually a worthwhile relationship.

Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust

“MITR.” “Moment in Time Retailing.” Today TikTok, next year BikBok? Seriously, fun is always fun no matter the delivery system. Whatever the future holds for Walmart and TikTok, now at this moment in time Walmart is providing a very unique, fun experience to Walmart customers. Time seems to find a way of leveraging the playing field of lost business opportunities as fickle consumers are always in charge of a retailer’s destiny.

James Tenser
BrainTrust

I won’t pretend to understand much about TikTok but I certainly grasp the commercial concept of putting the message where the eyeballs are. In our digital reality, newer platforms keep coming and keep displacing older ones for share of mind, while older platforms keep evolving. Cultural constructs follow, and mass market brands need to participate if they want to attract and keep customers. That’s a fundamental implication of Media Ecology that Walmart seems to recognize. It’s worth remembering that for an entity the size of Walmart, every experiment looks like a strategy to outsiders.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"ANY relationship with TikTok is a good one. What started as a lipsyncing platform for tweens is now very, very legitimate. "
"Walmart betting big on TikTok? Could be huge. You know, you can’t get to greatness without nerve! Right now there is no safe bet. Good luck."
"Is there a better way of attracting and cultivating a younger audience than with one of the quickly emerging top performers in social media?"

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