TikTok Made me buy it: Brands Viral Successes and Missed Opportunities

4th Apr 2024

Person holding up a shoe to show the camera with ring light illuminating them.

The app is known for its virality – but what about the aftermath?

TikTok has become a powerhouse in the social media realm. The video platform has become a powerful tool for brands to reach and engage with their target audience. The viral nature of TikTok can catapult brands into popular culture, but it also presents challenges in maintaining the momentum and ensuring customer retention.

In this blog, we will explore the double-edged sword of ‘going viral’, examine examples of brand successes and missed opportunities, and discuss strategies for maintaining popularity and increasing customer retention.

Going viral – a double-edged sword

Going viral on TikTok can provide brands with unparalleled exposure and brand visibility. On numerous occasions, we have seen how impossible it can be to buy some products because of their popularity on TikTok. Cleaning product The Pink Stuff, the Zara jeans, the Elf Power Grip Primer, CeraVe skin care, and Maybelline’s Sky High Mascara are just some of the products that are hard to get a hold of, as a result of their exploding popularity on TikTok.

Products that have gone viral on TikTok.

Whilst this is great for brands in the short term, it also comes with risks. As the viral spotlight faces your brand, it can very quickly fade if not managed effectively. The ‘TikTok made me buy it’ phenomenon is creating a culture of compelling product reviews and easy routes to purchase, which in turn is seeing more and more impulsive spending. Brands must navigate the challenges of maintaining relevance and sustaining customer interest beyond the initial viral moment.

Maintaining relevance

Maintaining relevance in the constantly changing world of social media is paramount for brands seeking long-term success. This entails not only staying true to brand values and identity, but also adapting to emerging trends and consumer preferences. As consumers increasingly buy into brands and their values, maintaining brand consistency becomes a crucial factor. Whether it’s aligning with influencer recommendations or crafting content that resonates with target audiences, brands must ensure that their TikTok presence reflects their overarching brand ethos.

Missing the viral train

In the age of social media, brand reputation can make or break a business. A mere five minutes of fame can quickly turn into a public relations nightmare if not handled correctly.

While TikTok presents immense opportunities for brands to connect with consumers in new and exciting ways, not every brand has managed to capitalise on its potential. Clothes Before Bros, a sustainable clothing brand, experienced rapid growth on TikTok but failed to manage the increased demand. Instead of investing in infrastructure and customer service, they continued launching new collections, leading to dissatisfaction among customers and ultimately, the closure of the business. Whilst you cannot find the brand on social media anymore, you can still find their reviews from the whole ordeal, yikes!

A selection of Trustpilot reviews for Clothes Before Bros.

This example underscores the importance of agility and customer-centricity in navigating the fast-paced world of social media marketing. Especially as a small business.

It is important to mention that when it comes to leveraging TikTok for marketing purposes, the landscape differs significantly for large corporations and small businesses. While large corporations may have the resources and infrastructure to scale up rapidly in response to viral content, smaller businesses often find themselves in uncharted territory when faced with unexpected growth. It’s essential for brands to consider the risks and rewards associated with viral marketing campaigns carefully.

Take, for example, Maybelline’s Sky High Mascara, which experienced unprecedented success on TikTok in 2021, where they sold out 4 times. Despite being a major corporation, Maybelline couldn’t even keep up! Then, to capitalise on their success, they then launched a marketing stunt which accumulated over 60,000 likes. This time, more prepared with plenty of stock. But the viral craze didn’t stop there. In January 2024, they continued their viral escapade by proactively stocking up on inventory and expanding their product line to capitalise on an emerging makeup trend, brightly coloured mascara. What a comeback from 2021!


@Maybelline New York is lashing out with their new ad campaign in London. 👀 #maybelline #eyelashes

♬ original sound – HYPEBAE

These examples highlight why it is vital that marketing teams make strategic choices about where to focus their efforts, to safeguard brand reputation. By prioritising authenticity, transparency, and ethical practices, brands can also build trust and loyalty with their audience, mitigating the risks associated with viral marketing.

Brands viral success

Here’s a great example of how a brand leveraged TikTok to achieve remarkable success. The drink ware brand, Stanley, has seen their revenue skyrocket from $70m to $750m in just 3 years because of TikTok. The brand sparked in popularity when people started to tap into the eco-friendly, health conscious market back in 2020. However, they weren’t the only brand to tackle single-use plastics – Chilly’s was another item on trend.


Thirsty after you catch on fire? @Stanley 1913 is like no problem i gotchu #fyp #carfire #accident #stanleycup

♬ original sound – Danielle

It wasn’t until the TikTok user @danimarielettering uploaded her viral burnt-out car video that things really took a turn. The novelty video accumulated 94.8 million views, with the extreme durability of the cup being the focal point of the conversation. Now, the thirst for the latest craze has seen people camping outside of stores and even law-breaking attempts to steal the infamous tumbler. However, the challenge now lies in capitalising on this momentum and innovating to maintain their appeal to their customers.

What should brands be doing to remain popular and increase customer retention?

To maintain popularity and increase customer retention, brands must prioritise customer satisfaction and invest in strategies to sustain long-term engagement. This includes diversifying product offerings, improving customer service, and fostering meaningful connections with their audience. This can be achieved through engaging content and personalised experiences.

Final thoughts

As TikTok continues to offer unmatched opportunities for exposure and engagement, shape consumer behaviour, and influence purchasing decisions, brands must remain vigilant in their approach to marketing on the platform.

By prioritising customer satisfaction, investing in infrastructure, staying agile in response to market trends, and prioritising brand reputation, brands can harness the power of TikTok to achieve lasting success. Ultimately, the key to sustained success lies in striking the right balance between creativity, authenticity, and strategic foresight.

Ready to take your brand’s marketing strategy to the next level? Contact us at think3 for expert guidance and personalised solutions tailored to your unique goals and objectives. Let’s turn your marketing into sustained success!