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TikTok trends are shaping what you buy, eat and drink

·4-min read

TikTok isn’t just a place to find the next viral dance craze or ankle-breaking stunt. The social video platform, which has an estimated billion monthly users, has become a hotbed for consumer trends in a number of industries. Viral TikTok videos that drive consumer behavior happen so frequently that they’ve inspired special sections in shops, been responsible for product shortages and resurrected classic songs. In fact, the platform recently published a study that claimed 71% of users think the biggest trends begin on TikTok.

Here’s a look at some of the industries TikTok regularly influences.

Books

Generally, bestsellers lists are chock full of the best in new releases. Not surprisingly, TikTok book influencers have disrupted literary industry norms, too. Enter #BookTok, a black hole of recommendation and review videos that have collectively amassed more than 21 billion views. It’s a corner of the internet so popular and powerful that Barnes and Noble dedicated a section of its website to the platform’s trending books. It’s a virtual land ripe with influencers with their own book clubs just waiting for you to dive in.

The thing about BookTok, though, is that any book could wind up trending at any time, regardless of when it was first published and in the age of supply chain woes it can create a headache for booksellers.

“TikTok is a huge problem. Sometimes a book from five years ago will go viral on there and all of a sudden, it’s on the New York Times bestseller list, then it’s on backorder and you can’t get it at all,” Candice Huber, owner of New Orleans’ Tubby and Coo’s Mid-City Book Shop, recently told Yahoo Finance.

Coffee

Tired of your go-to coffee order? Search TikTok for #starbuckssecretmenu and you’ll be inundated with drinks you won’t find on any Starbucks menu. The Pooh Bear themed frappuccino concocted to remind customers of Winnie the Pooh. The “WandaVision Refresher,” named for the hit Marvel series that debuted earlier this year. Videos with the hashtag have been viewed more than 205 million times, and even include curated recipes from employees of the coffee chain.

And who could forget the great TikTok whipped coffee of 2020? The simple recipe had consumers racing to the nearest supermarket for instant coffee to change up their home brewing routines. Since last spring, #coffeewhip videos have racked up almost 13 million views.

Fetapasta. Trending viral Feta bake pasta recipe made of cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, garlic and herbs in a casserole dish. Top view, above, copy space.
TikTok helped drive up sales of feta cheese earlier in 2021. (Getty Images)

Cheese

TikTok users seem to have a taste for cheese. A search for #cheese returns plenty of Gouda ideas with a combined 12.3 billion views.

Did you try to buy feta cheese at the grocery store earlier this year only to find an empty spot on the shelf where it should’ve been? A viral video showing a dish with baked feta cheese tomatoes poured over pasta was quickly dubbed TikTok pasta. Jenni Häyrinen, the Finnish food blogger who created the madness, wrote on her blog that feta cheese sales soared in Finland after the viral video. According to the New York Times, cheesemongers and suppliers here in the U.S. reported spikes in demand earlier in 2021, when the recipe was tearing through TikTok.

This week, a new cheesy pasta is trending on the platform. Thanks to @_nikkigillespie_, users are learning how to cook Kraft Mac and Cheese in a whole new way. Let’s hope that doesn’t mean we’re heading straight for a macaroni shortage.

Leggings

Yes, leggings. Really. But this viral trend happened by mistake. Last November, a pair of leggings from Aerie spread like wildfire across the platform after influencer Hannah Schlenker danced to Justin Bieber’s “Drummer Boy” wearing a blue pair of the “Real Me Highwaisted Crossover” leggings. Schlenker’s video — and honesty about how the leggings made her look — led to Aerie developing new similar styles and naming Schlenker a crossover consultant, Yahoo Life reported.

Music

In July, TikTok issued study results detailing how their users interacted with music and bands across the platform. Some interesting data came out of the platform’s study, including the fact that 75% of its users say they discover new artists through TikTok and 63% of its users heard new music that they've never heard before.

Sure, the platform frequently contributes to the meteoric rise of new singles from artists like Olivia Rodrigo and Lil Nas X, but it also introduces new fans to songbook classics, like Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” All it took was a guy called doggface208 sipping juice while cruising down the road on his skateboard to catapult the track to the top of the charts for the first time since its release in 1977, long before many of TikTok users were born.

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