It is becoming more apparent each day that traditional media platforms are taking a back seat in the marketing world. Although newspapers, radio and television are still prominent features within the household, the instantaneous nature of social media takes preference in delivering information to society.

Whether it is a swipe up on Instagram or a scroll down on TikTok, we are constantly being influenced and a lot of the time, we don’t even realise it. The global pandemic has introduced many new trends into society, including home workouts, banana bread and TIKTOK.

Would I be correct in saying this time last year, you had absolutely no intention of downloading TikTok? “It’s a children’s app” you laughed. “Not for me” you urged. Just wondering what your TikTok screen time is now?

Nevertheless, as COVID spread across the globe, we all became desperate for an escape from the deadly news and isolation boredom and TikTok provided just that. Initially, we all learned a dance or two, tie-dyed our jeans and made whipped coffee. The popularity of the app became apparent very quickly, with unheard songs going to number one after a dance trend and normal people becoming mega influencers, with millions of followers LITERALLY overnight. Addison Rae, Charli D’Amelio and Noah Beck… to name a few.

Many platforms seen a surge of interest throughout the pandemic, including Etsy, online fashion stores and most predominantly, TikTok. Currently TikTok boasts an incredible ONE BILLION monthly active users in contrast to 680 million users in late 2018. These avid scrollers spend on average 52 minutes everyday on the app, with the most popular age group of users, Generation Z scrolling for up to 80 MINUTES. Bearing in mind most videos on the app do not surpass 15 seconds, so that is a LOT of scrolling.

The popularity of the app resulted in plenty of ‘TikTok made me buy it’ moments – including North Face puffer coats, Juicy Couture tracksuits and most recently LITTLE MOONS.

Little Moons were created in 2010 by brother and sister, Howard and Vivien Wong who were keen to introduce the world to the delicious Japanese treat, Mochi. Brand awareness has undoubtedly skyrocketed for the sibling duo all thanks to the exciting algorithm of TikTok, seeing their sales increase by an incomprehensible 700% with their predominant suppler, Tesco.

HOW – you might ask? #LittleMoons

The instantaneous popularity for Little Moons has resulted in mass sell-out, making the sweet treat GOLDDUST and virtually impossible to get your hands on. This search process has become a trend in itself, with many TikTok users sharing their experience on the hunt for the treasured desserts, visiting endless ‘Big Tesco’s’ in their area. Therefore, you can guarantee those lucky enough to get their hands on them are going to take themselves to TikTok to do the all important ‘Taste Test’, contributing to the trend, generating views and popularity for both themselves and for the brand.

Win-Win situation – you get 100k views on a TikTok video and Little Moons get £100,000 in sales, seems fair… right?

With 55 million views on the #LittleMoons hashtag, simply from consumer involvement, this ultimately begs the question, do we still need to spend a huge chunk of our budget on marketing and brand awareness tactics?

The recent success of Little Moons did not involve a big billboard in London or an extortionately funded Instagram campaign. It involved the importance instilled in young people to jump on trends to stay relevent, the influence of user-generated content on the consumer and creative, inviting video marketing.

Unfortunately, I have not been lucky enough to get my hands on the sweet treats. I thought my job in Tesco would make the hunt slightly easier, but OH BOY was I wrong? Recently, I have noticed the freezer isle has become particularly popular with young people, hovering just incase the bare shelf will be restocked. I live in hope that someday soon, there will be a box left over by the time I finish my shift. I highly doubt it though. Eagle eyed individuals have even noticed some Tesco employees (not me Tesco) have been hiding the desserts behind other items to snag after work – and in true TikTok style, have taken to app to snitch on these workers, showing viewers all the hidden nooks and crannies to check before they admit defeat. It really is an extreme sport.

Selfridges in London were ahead of the hype, boasting a Little Moons counter, where you can choose numerous favours – like a Mochi Pick n’ Mix. Current government restrictions have allowed Selfridges to open their food counters, for takeaway, which, yes you guessed it, EVERYONE is taking advantage of. Videos on TikTok have exposed the huge queues gathering at a social distance outside the London department store, with newly hired security guards to control the demand.

SECUIRTY GUARDS for Little Moons? Can you believe it?

Although trends come and go, it is clear if the organisation get involved and push to maintain their popularity, it doesn’t have to be a one hit wonder. Little Moons were straight on the ball, jumping on the TikTok trend, creating their own videos, as well as promising to increase their supply to meet demand.

The million-dollar question is, WHAT OR WHO IS NEXT? As I scroll down my TikTok, which I admit, I do a lot *facepalm* there is a newfound rising popularity surrounding weighted hula-hoops, and feta cheese in pasta. Even in the early stages of popularity, I have noticed feta cheese is becoming sparse on the shelves in Tesco. The sheer power that TikTok holds over modern society is mind blowing and it is extremely important that organisations recognise this influence and begin to navigate this new wave of marketing effectively.

Ellen Turbett is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram and LinkedIn.