June 27, 2023
Do TikTok’s Trending Products Live Up to the Hype?
7 MIN READ

The rise in candy from around the world reflects people's growing adventurous palates and the role of social media in introducing new foods globally.

History has significantly influenced what various cultures consider beautiful. Major economic and political events, along with shifts in the cultural zeitgeist, have all played a crucial part in shaping ideal beauty standards.

For instance, colonialism radically shifted beauty ideals in many Asian and African countries. Features that didn’t fit with Eurocentric beauty ideals, like deeper skin tones, smaller eye shapes and textured hair, were deemed undesirable, introducing a social hierarchy that is still being unraveled today.

In modern society, the rise of the Internet and social media has been a transformative force in shaping beauty standards. Asian beauty techniques and products have spread to the West and entered the mainstream, while Western influencer and celebrity culture has permeated globally. The conversation around beauty has become increasingly diverse and inclusive, celebrating a wider range of features and styles.

These evolving perspectives on beauty have led to the emergence of new practices, which are prominently reflected in modern advertising. Using our AI-powered Ad Evaluation App, we analyzed beauty advertisements from the 1990s and 2000s by the same brands across five different markets - the US, China, India, Japan, and Brazil. Our goal was to observe their transformation over time and identify any movements between these markets.

Brazil

Previous Archetypes and Values: Sensual, Intimate, Passionate

New Archetypes and Values: Sensual, Intimate, Passionate, Inspiration, Glamorous

Brazil boasts one of the world’s most diverse cultures, but its beauty standards haven't always reflected that. L’Oreal’s earlier ads featured a light-skinned American model, which is not representative of the country's diversity. While the preferences for glamour and sensuality have remained central, modern ads now showcase a nuanced version of beauty, highlighting different ethnicities and genders. This bolder approach contrasts with the seemingly self-effacing ad of the past, redefining and embracing what beauty looks like in Brazil.

China

Previous Archetypes and Values: Supportive, Down-to-Earth

New Archetypes and Values:  Strong, Brave, Determined

Estee Lauder's 2002 ad in China features Caucasian model Hilary Rhoda as the ambassador, dubbed in Mandarin. This ad may have been a reflection of the period's idealization of foreign beauty and a lack of strong Chinese identity in the beauty industry at the time. More than two decades later, the 2024 ad we analyzed showcases Zhang Weili, a professional MMA fighter, training in a boxing ring. This shift indicates a move away from the consumption of imported beauty standards towards the creation of a homegrown ideal. The new standard of beauty emphasizes strength and health, qualities that Chinese consumers admire and aspire to, and see in themselves.

India

Previous Archetypes and Values:  Powerful, Charismatic, Visionary

New Archetype and Values: Playful, Carefree, Fun-Loving, Glamorous

The two L’Oreal India advertisements featuring long-time brand ambassador Aishwarya Rai illustrate a shift in marketing strategy over the last decade. In the earlier ad, Aishwarya embodies the quintessential beautiful Indian woman, dressed-up and perfectly coiffed. This portrayal emphasizes an idealized and somewhat unattainable standard of beauty.The updated ad presents a more casual and relatable image of the actress, which suggests an attitudinal shift among Indian consumers. While she remains glamorous, the ad focuses on portraying her in a more accessible light, thus positioning her as someone who wants to help other women feel beautiful too.

Japan

Previous Archetypes and Values: Innocent, Humble, Optimistic

New Archetypes and Values: Warm, Compassionate, Generous, Nurturing, Inspirational

Shiseido's ads reflect the evolving reality of Japanese women over the past 30 years. The 1992 ad depicts a woman at home, where women typically spent most of their time. The modern ad, however, shows Japanese celebrity Hiromi Nagasaku in various aspects of her life—at work and with her family—showcasing the joy she feels. She appears more confident and assertive, reflecting contemporary Japanese views on beauty. In the past, beauty was associated with cleanliness, but now it encompasses a woman living her life fully and enjoying every moment, illustrating that beauty comes from within rather than just external appearances.

USA

Previous Archetypes and Values: Expressive, Imaginative, Sensuality

New Archetypes and Values:  Playful, Fun-loving, Glamorous, Entertaining

Both Maybelline ads share a similar concept, creating a fantasy world that doesn't take itself too seriously. Beauty is meant to be fun, and the 2023 version feels like a modern update of the earlier ad's playful message. The latest ad features the unexpected pairing of Bretman Rock and Martha Stewart, and utilizes both their brand personas. This shift showcases a growing consumer desire for inclusivity and authenticity in advertising, challenging traditional notions of beauty and expanding the idea of who gets to wear makeup.

Our analysis of ads from these five markets reveals three key ways ideas have traveled, highlighting the shift from one-dimensional to multidimensional beauty. The meaning of this shift varies across cultures.

Many modern ads demonstrate a shift in the relationship and power dynamics between beauty brands and consumers. In the past, the beauty industry focused on highlighting imperfections and promoting unattainable standards that could only be achieved through their products. Today, consumers are more empowered and seek brands that affirm their beauty and support them in their journey to become the best version of themselves.

Markets Demostrating this Theme: USA. Brazil, Japan.

Modern beauty ads seem to share a common thread: beauty is about play and passion. It’s meant to be fun and accessible to everyone who wants to take part in it. It's believed that happiness and fulfillment in life radiate outwardly. When you feel content and satisfied, it enhances your external appearance.Brands need to promote the idea that their products are a means to explore, have fun, and express joy, reinforcing where true beauty comes from.

Markets Demostrating this Theme: USA, Brazil, China, Japan, India.

Seeing yourself on screen is more important than ever before. Consumers are demanding to see people who not only look like them but also reflect the unique interpretations of beauty in their respective countries. They want to see individuals who mirror their ideals and lifestyles and with whom they can emotionally connect.

The expectation is for brands to understand them on a far deeper level and cater to their beauty standards, rather than setting the standards for them.

Markets Demostrating this Theme: USA, Brazil, China, Japan.

Candy remains a favorite in ASMR eating videos due to its visual appeal and sound when chewed. Recently, popular candies with crunchy and sludgy sounds have become especially soothing.

Consumers' tastes now favor sharper, tangier flavors. Sour candy offers a refreshing contrast to sweetness and stimulates dopamine release. It is also believed to be a quick antidote for anxiety, as it distracts the brain from negative emotions and focuses it on the tingly sensation in the mouth.

Nostalgia has hit the candy market, with 90s and 00s favorites like Ring Pops, Airheads, and Nerds topping Amazon’s Best Sellers list, indicating consumers’ craving for childhood snacks.

Write to [email protected] to learn about AI-powered market research and the latest consumer trends.

As beauty standards become more inclusive and diverse, it is clear that consumers are driving a transformative shift in media and advertising, seeking representations that are authentic, empowering, and reflective of their true selves.

If you are interested to learn more, sign upfor our product newsletter or reach out to us at [email protected].

We’re launching an updated version of our ad evaluation tool that can analyse any creative formats, from concepts to storyboard, at our September event. Learn more about AI-volution 2024 here.

Brand Insights in 3 Sentences: If you’re on TikTok, we’ve all been tempted to buy things we’ve seen on it, but how do we know if it actually works? We put six trending products through the test by using Sphere to diagnose the product experience. Brands who have products going viral on TikTok must not be reliant just on the platform for its popularity, but also be aware of the narrative around it, and use the opportunity to build relationships with their consumers and continue to meet consumers’ needs by leveraging on AI.

The hashtag #Tiktokmademebuyit has over 57.5 billion views on the video platform so you’re certainly not alone in being influenced, or de-influenced into purchasing viral products. From beauty game-changers to quirky gadgets, TikTok has a massive influence on consumer behavior and users have taken on the role of product testers themselves. The constant question on our mind however is: Do these products actually work?

Using our AI-powered tool, Sphere, we selected 6 trending TikTok products and began our analysis on Amazon, where we analyzed hundreds of reviews per product and identified sentiments, as well as a few key themes.


EZCO Mini Bag Sealer and Cutter

There’s nothing worse than a stale bag of chips and having to find the perfect-sized clip for your half-eaten bag is a hassle. This little device saves you the trouble by resealing it with a bit of heat, and doubling as a bag cutter to open it again.

However, sentiments within the reviews show that this device may not work as well as people expected. Only about half of the reviews expressed positivity about the device, while the rest were left disappointed. Customers found the product to be useful and liked that it was cute and compact, but most admitted that it took a few tries to get it right. The reviews from the lowest ratings were mostly from people who had a difficult time figuring out how to use the product, and admitting that it wasn’t as functional as they’d hoped.

Check out another one of our articles using Sphere’s text emotion and other interesting analysis.

Hatch Restore 2 Sunrise Alarm Clock


The Hatch Restore 2 is an alarm clock, noise machine, bedside lamp, meditation guide and even bedtime storyteller all rolled into this quarter-mooned shape device. The gadget allows you to customize your morning and bedtime routines with the goal of creating better sleeping habits.

The clock has become the stuff of the #thatgirl aesthetic dreams, with hundreds of TikTok videos of people placing it in their list of morning essentials and explaining how they include it into their daily rituals.

The ratings for the Hatch Restore 2 are pretty high, with 40% of reviewers being happy with the product. If you’re someone who struggles with anxiety and bad sleep, this may be helpful for you, since it comes with some pretty cool features and ability to customize settings to your liking. However, the 30% of reviews that expressed sadness about the clock cited faultiness, such as light functions not working properly or alarms not going off when set, and the lack of good customer service from the brand.

south_east

synthesizing vast data into actionable insights that reflect each market's unique cultural and economic backdrop

south_east

grasping the distinct consumer perspectives that these diverse regions offer

Stardrops The Pink Stuff

This bubblegum pink multi-purpose cleaning paste, appropriately named ‘The Pink Stuff’, first took off on #CleanTok and has made the idea of cleaning kind of, well…fun? The product claims to be so versatile, it can be used to clean heavy duty dirt or grime from virtually anything. Dozens of TikTok videos show the paste being used to clean stained kitchen floors to muddy sneakers, which inspired the company to adapt it into different forms like sprays and liquids.

This “miracle” paste had mostly raving reviews, with our analysis showing that about 64% of people felt happy and optimistic about the product. The paste really does work, it seems, with people experimenting on every surface they can find, from bathtubs to cooking pans. Unlike other cleaning supplies, the scent is also described as being quite pleasant and not too overwhelming. Even reviews with slightly lower ratings admit that the paste still works better than other ones they’ve tried.

CORATED Heatless Curling Rod Headband

Getting bouncy, voluminous curls without the heat damage and breaking the bank is the formula everyone on the Internet has been trying to crack for years. Heatless curls are nothing new, think your grandma’s hair rollers and flexi rods, and techniques like literally wrapping hair in socks or even bathrobe belts being introduced as hacks.

The latest curling product to take over TikTok is this pool noodle-like silk headband, where all you have to do is wrap your slightly damp hair around it before bedtime and remove it the next morning for perfect waves.

We found that about 55% of reviewers were happy with the product, while 44% were left unsatisfied. Reviewers who gave high ratings, however, swear by the product. They mention using it on a daily basis because of how well it works and how easy it is to maintain the curls once they take it out of the headband. The one thing customers couldn’t agree on but was mentioned multiple times in reviews? Whether or not the product was easy to sleep with.


Curated digital profiles:

-Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok (US)

-Weibo and Douyin (China)

Pulled 400 million unique searches to estimate the growth of each segment

Used Quilt.AI’s Sphere language and image capabilities to categorise lifestyle areas into specific segments

Glamour Seekers

These consumers are confident, bold, and comfortable with modern masculinity. They also often turn to social media to express their personal style and interests.

Actionable Insight: Collaborate with high-profile fashion influencers to create vibrant, trend-setting campaigns that resonate with this segment's desire for attention and admiration.

Vanity Vanguards

Highly image-driven, these individuals often seek validation through their appearance and are likely to engage heavily with both grooming and fashion products.

Actionable Insight:Leverage digital marketing strategies that feature before-and-after visuals and testimonials that showcase the transformative power of the products

Conscious Icons

These men aim to be recognized as modern, open-minded, and sensitive – embodying the image of "the woke good guy" in today's society by actively participating in movements related to activism and gender equality.

Actionable Insight:Design marketing campaigns that highlight their participation in these movements, showcasing products that enable them to express and amplify their desired social identities.

Youthful Trendsetters

They value beauty while still maintaining traditional masculine ideals of what it means to be good-looking. These men also tend to seek out methods of maintaining their youthful appearances.

Actionable Insight:Market products that boost physical appeal and suit active lifestyles, and focus on dynamic marketing that highlights masculine elegance.

Trusted Patrons

Despite seeing gender in traditionally binary terms, these men aren’t afraid of behaving in more feminine manners. They own their uniqueness and tend to be deeply loyal to brands that affirm their identity.

Actionable Insight:Focusing on brand narratives that celebrate individuality and personal expression will better engage this segment. Brands can also offer personalized services to maintain their commitment.

Innovation Advocates

As consumers who value knowledge, they embrace technology and innovation that enhances their lives. Wanting to stay ahead of the curve, they prefer brands that offer cutting-edge solutions that reflect their own mentality.

Actionable Insight:Market products to this segment by emphasizing innovation, utility, and exclusivity. Brands can focus on how their products integrate the latest technology and engage these men through intelligent content that speaks to their curiosity.

Visuals illustrated are to bring concepts to life only.

Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Drops

The idea of self tanning can be scary, especially the thought of being stuck with a streaky, orange tan for days if not done correctly. These game changing tanning drops by Isle of Paradise could not make the task any easier. Available in three shades, light, medium and dark, all you need is a few drops in your lotion or moisturizer for a sunkissed glow. The drops claim to be easy-to-use, streak-free, hydrating and doesn’t come with that funky smell some other tanning products have. Sounds too good to be true? Amazon reviews show that it may not be.

Over two hundred reviews analyzed showed 0 negative emotion for the product, only joy and optimism. According to reviewers, the price point, how natural looking it is and ease of use are some of the best features of the product. Their only gripe is that the product does take a little trial and error with the number of drops to use.

After discovering how TikTok fans were adding the drops into spray bottles, a technique first discovered by creator Erica (@foamy3), the brand took note and created the mist version of their drops, making it easier to build a more professional-looking tan.

Go Youth Under-Desk Electric Treadmill

Working-from-home has many perks. We can run a few loads of laundry during the day, snuggle our dogs through a long virtual meeting, and now, get our daily steps right from our desks. People on TikTok are showing off their home office spaces and their handy desk treadmills, where they walk and send out emails, all at the same time. While there are a number of different desk treadmills available, The Go Youth Treadmill really was the one to take off on TikTok.

Sentiments from over a hundred reviews were mainly positive. Customers liked that the machine had wheels and could be moved from one place to another, and that the treadmill was quiet and had adjustable noise settings.

Ultimately, these products are so subjective that it’s difficult to come to a final verdict for them, but we hope that Sphere’s analysis has helped to paint you a better picture of the different consumers’ perspectives. Our analysis also shows that while #Tiktokmademebuyit may be dangerous for our wallets, it’s ultimately a very interesting avenue for trend exploration and product discovery for consumers today.

Write to [email protected] for more information on how Sphere can radically transform the way your company understands online data.

Visuals illustrated are to bring concepts to life only.
Visuals illustrated are to bring concepts to life only.
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