As Amazon solves its Covid-19 shipping delays, TikTok has emerged as an unlikely source of beauty sales for the platform.
A growing number of beauty brands, especially independent labels, have launched official shops on Amazon as it has increased its focus on the beauty category. Despite logistics setbacks during the first two months of coronavirus shutdowns in the U.S., shipping times have returned to normal for most beauty brands that have adopted Amazon as a sales channel. Amazon is also especially gaining ground with Gen-Z shoppers. According to a 2019 survey by CPC Strategy, 72% of female Gen-Z consumers use Amazon for product discovery. Piper Jaffray’s 2019 survey of American teenagers found that Amazon had risen to become the fifth most popular sales channel for beauty, up from being the 17th the year prior.
“For us, the No. 1 traffic driver is TikTok,” said Memebox founder and CEO Dino Ha of the company’s Amazon presence, which he said has continued to grow during the pandemic despite shipment delays. The K-beauty company’s I Dew Care and I’m Meme brands link to their official Amazon stores from their TikTok accounts, and the lines add the popular #amazonfinds hashtag to each of their TikTok videos. Ha said the brands launched on both TikTok and Amazon around the same time, entering Amazon in January 2020. I Dew Care’s first TikTok video was posted in December, and the account has grown to 360,000 followers without the use of paid ads or hashtag challenges. I’m Meme started posting on TikTok in April 2020.
Ha said that the brands chose to link to Amazon because “we thought that was the easiest,” noting, “I think we’ll keep it that way because it’s working right now.” The company may be experimenting with other links in the future, he said. “We’re still trying to understand what the TikTok audience in the community is all about and what they prefer.”
While TikTok videos currently don’t link directly to e-commerce, the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, offers links to Alibaba’s Tmall and other channels through commerce buttons embedded in the videos. This shows the possibility of what the future holds for TikTok in the U.S.
But an Amazon-focused TikTok strategy is still a rare one for beauty brands, as most link to their DTC sites. Lady Gaga’s Haus Laboratories, which launched exclusively on Amazon last year, links to its DTC store from its TikTok account, despite Lady Gaga’s young millennial and Gen-Z fanbase. However, influencers are linking to Amazon from TikTok through curated affiliate links. Actress Christa Allen (the child actress from “13 Going on 30”) links her viral TikTok account to her Amazon shop of curated beauty products sold by third-party merchants.
Amazon-related beauty content has taken off on the platform. The #amazonfinds hashtag has received over 720 million views on TikTok, with its top posts featuring a range of beauty gadgets like ring lights, face rollers and scalp massagers. I Dew Care’s post about its Sugar Kitten mask is among the most popular posts using the hashtag, as is a post from an influencer about Revlon’s oil-control stick — a product able to resonate on a platform with a great deal of acne-related content.
According to an Amazon spokesperson, beauty and personal care sales nearly doubled year-over-year in April, with skin-care and bath products being the top categories. Outside of these categories, the company said blue and pink hair dye — favorites for TikTok egirls — have been selling well. In addition, nail polish sales have more than doubled on Amazon, with top colors being Essie’s Ballet Slippers and O.P.I. colors Funny Bunny, Bubble Bath and Black Onyx.
Many beauty brands relying on Amazon for fulfillment switched to merchant-fulfilled during March and April, as shipping times climbed to a month due to Amazon’s social distancing measures and outbreaks of Covid-19 at its warehouses across the country. BioClarity, for example, switched to merchant fulfillment in March, but shifted back to Amazon fulfillment at the end of April. Memebox decided to stay with Amazon fulfillment and wait out the long shipping time. Ha says shipping times are fully back to normal.
“We are rapidly increasing the number of items we deliver with One Day and Two Day free shipping for Prime members, by adding capacity in our network and hiring 175,000 new employees,” said an Amazon spokesperson via email. “We removed quantity limits on products our suppliers – this includes beauty – can send to our fulfillment centers.”