NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Pets and TikTok are a good match for brand campaigns
By Alma J. Buelva
TikTok, a very popular app for making 15-second videos, is attracting not just the usual wannabe singers, dancers and comics anymore. Pets have also arrived in TikTok's world where their adorable videos actually offer prime opportunities for advertising for millions around the world to see.
Launched in 2017, TikTok has been downloaded over 2 billion times globally on the App Store and Google Play as of the first quarter of 2020, as estimated by Sensor Tower Store Intelligence, an app store marketing insights firm.
Still a David next to social media Goliaths like Facebook, TikTok has quickly developed a massive following among the Generation Z (people born between 1996 and 2015) whose voracious use of the Chinese-made app catapults it to the top of video-sharing apps to watch. Many of the Gen Zs as well as users from older groups flock to TikTok to show off their pets' food adventures, highlighting the app's potential as a new brand marketing tool.
Viewership of TikTok pet videos are drool-worthy. Those that were hashtagged #dogsoftiktok and #catsoftiktok had 34 billion and 22 billion views, respectively as of last October. The Siberian Husky and the Dragon Li were identified as the most popular breed of dog and cat on based on the number of videos they have on TikTok last year.
TikTok users stoking up pet related contents are being tracked by companies like Influence Grid which helps brands and agencies find TikTok influencers to work with. By Q4 2020, they were tracking more or less 800 TikTok pet influencers with an average of 216,000 followers and 42,000 plays per video.
TikTokers are ranked as nano influencers with a thousand to 10,000 followers, micro influencers with over 10,000 to 100,000 followers, macro influencers with over 100,000 to one million followers, and mega influencers with over a million followers.
TIKTOK'S TAKE ON PET FOOD
TikTok videos of pets' amusing reactions to their food are the ones doing very well and are ideal for pet food brand insertions. Videos of pets that missed out on their treat or meal also become viral for hilarious reasons.
For example, over 4 million TikTokers saw how the dog Bella became quite angry with her owner (@lilmfcurb) who pretended to put her on a diet by miserly placing only two pieces of kibble in her bowl. Then there's the cat @B-mo who also went viral on TikTok after it dejectedly bowed its head at the sad state of its food bowl. The dramatics earned the tabby close to 2 million views.
TikTok pet owners are also using the quirky video app to share tutorials for all sorts of homemade pet meals including recipes for a “puppocino” and pet ice cream which featured the pet food brand Ziwi Peak. They also idle away at home during lockdowns by joining the pet food challenge trend on TikTok which tests a pet's obedience in the face of tempting delicious food. By mid-October, TikTok pet videos that were hashtagged #petfood and #petfoodchallenge have the highest views in the pets category with over 18.3 million and around 267,000, respectively.
Then, there are the straight up pet food reviews, new product announcements and a few exposés of sort that inform the public what not to feed their pets. Veterinarian Dr. Andrew Woods, did a series of TikTok videos on how grain-free and some premium type of dog food can cause dogs to develop a heart muscle dysfunction called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The videos earned him half a million likes but also lots of criticisms from advocates of grain-free diets for dogs.
IS TIKTOK THE NEW TOOL OF THE PET TRADE?
The way pet influencers gravitate towards TikTok and the fact that it has established a strong foothold in countries with equally strong pet markets make a compelling case for pet companies to incorporate TikTok into their social media strategy and use it as a sales and marketing tool.
Around the world, TikTok's penetration rate has been nothing short of amazing, given that it's only been around for a few years. It is estimated to have a high 80 percent penetration rate among young users, but the app also resides in older people's phones.
Known as Douyin in China, TikTok was one of the four most downloaded free, non-gaming app last year, and is now available in over 150 countries and in 39 languages. TikTok is strongest in India and China where download activities reached 611 million times and 197 million times, respectively, as of April 2020. Data from research firm eMarketer projects TikTok to have 556 million users in China by 2023.
The US is the third country where TikTok gets downloaded the most, with 165 million in total as of last spring. However, the US government under former President Donald Trump tried to ban TikTok due to data privacy and national security concerns. It remains to be seen if TikTok will still need to find a US buyer to allay those fears under the new administration of President Joe Biden.
UNDERSTANDING TIKTOK'S “PET APPEAL”
TikTok has the numbers to convince traditional marketers to use it as their new launch pad for their next pet product campaign. Among the different genres of short videos on TikTok, pet videos supposedly rank sixth in terms of traffic at 12 percent. A mega TikTok pet influencer like @dogstify with 1.2 million followers, has posted so far 175 dog videos that were liked 24.7 million times by other users.
As Covid-19 forcibly shut everyone inside with only their mobile devices to view the outside world, TikTok became one of the most-used “quarantine apps” along with Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, Amazon, Twitter and Spotify.
App Annie, an app analytics and market data firm, said users of Android devices on average used TikTok for at least 45 minutes daily in 2019, which translated to over 68 billion hours of posting, watching, sharing and liking videos. The short, creative videos on TikTok also resulted in US$50 million in in-app spending among Android users in 2018, App Annie’s State of Mobile 2020 report showed. It will be much more this year with a formal TikTok advertising platform in place and with the pandemic influencing mobile shopping.
In terms of profile, TikTok users are 1.5 times more likely to promote a brand online or purchase a product that would improve their social status, said another digital analytics company Global Web Index. Seen as brand conscious people, TikTokers like promotional campaigns and advertising 1.35 times more than the average social media user, and are open to reviewing products and services and engaging with an advertiser's target customers.
At the end of the day, TikTok offers much more than fun and games. There are new opportunities here for pet influencers and pet companies to collaborate on to strengthen a brand or widen its reach, keeping in mind that majority of those who use this Generation Z app today could continue as their moneyed customers tomorrow.
* Tiktok, the new home of pet influencers