Walmart and TikTok are teaming up for an innovative social-commerce test -- one they both hope will reignite Gen Z's zest for shopping with their friends.
The livestream shoppable event, scheduled for Friday night, starts with Michael Le (@justmaiko), one of the platform's snappiest dancers and biggest stars, with 43 million followers. Other TikTok creators are set to join the one-hour event, called the "Holiday Shop-Along Spectacular."
As each TikTok star reveals his or her favorite Walmart fashion finds styled their way, viewers can click on the item and have it move to their Walmart cart -- without having to leave the platform to do so.
Featured brands include Champion, Jordache and Kendall + Kylie, and private-label brands like Free Assembly, Scoop and Sofia Jeans.
"People miss shopping for fun," says Sarah Marzano, an analyst at Gartner. "So the idea of brand discovery, trying things out, playing with them during live streaming efforts brings back a little bit of that social aspect to shopping. And that's been tough for other social platforms to capture."
What's unique about this test, she tells Marketing Daily, "is this move to create an ecosystem where a purchase can be completed within the app. You don't have your journey interrupted."
A Walmart spokesperson tells Marketing Daily that following the one-time test, it plans to analyze how many users join in and how they engage with the brand. "We're charting new territory," he says via email.
"With millions of our customers on TikTok, we've continued to grow our presence, creating big moments with our hashtag challenges," writes William White, Walmart's chief marketing officer, in a blog post. "Naturally, when TikTok began exploring a new shoppable product, we jumped in to pilot the solution," he notes, "innovating on behalf of customers in our fastest growing social community."
Walmart is promoting the event on its website and social channels, while TikTok is pushing it with banners and in-feed content. "We'll also be working with fashion publishers to develop content, social posts and emails that promote the experience," the spokesperson says.
TikTok isn't alone in its quest for s-commerce. Instagram, which announced a test of shopping on Reels, its TikTok-like product back in October, is now rolling the feature out. It lets companies and creators tag products, which viewers can save or buy, reports The Verge. That means every Instagram format -- the Feed, Stories, IGTV and Live -- is more or less a clothing catalog.
But TikTok, the most downloaded app of the year, is the hot ticket. And for Walmart, "what matters is finding Gen Z where they are, especially now that people are spending so much time at home," says Gartner's Marzano.
It's also important that the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer is mastering the nuances of social platforms. On Instagram, the goal is "amassing a large following to build out a branded channel that can then push content out to an audience," she says.
But on TikTok, it's all about "themes that can go viral. So maybe a competition, a song or a visual effect becomes popular, accompanied by a hashtag. And it's all about facilitating other people to create content... about self-expression and creativity."
And while there are certainly risks -- TikTok influencers have been known to get into plenty of trouble that could reflect badly on brands that associate with them -- Marzano says it's the right platform for bleak times.
Gen Z "is such a large engaged audience that it makes sense to continue investing in it. These things move so quickly, it can be very easy to be left behind."