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Will TikTok’s Influence Last After Trends Like ‘Latte Makeup’ and ‘Girl Dinners’?

TikTok, with its short videos, stormed into the U.S. market originating from the Chinese app Douyin. In under six years, TikTok is now a pivotal part of American consumer culture, accelerating trends and reshaping the engagement with food and fashion.

TikTok’s rise has not come without controversy. Concerns over national security led Congress to consider banning the app unless its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, sells its stake. ByteDance and TikTok have both filed lawsuits, citing First Amendment rights. Despite this turmoil, TikTok’s influence remains strong.

The platform’s power in trendsetting is evident. For example, interest in bright pink blush and brown lipstick surged last year due to TikTok videos featuring “cold girl” and “latte” makeup. Various quirky clothing trends like “cottagecore” and “coastal grandma” owe their popularity to TikTok.

Many TikTok trends are short-lived, challenging businesses to gauge which ones warrant their attention. The Pew Research Center notes that a significant portion of TikTok’s over 170 million American users are under 30—a demographic highly valued by retailers. Even uninterested shoppers might find themselves purchasing items influenced by TikTok without realizing it.

What sets TikTok apart from previous platforms? Experts often point to its personalized recommendation algorithm as the key to its success. The technology behind TikTok’s “For You” feed remains largely undisclosed.

Jake Bjorseth, founder of the ad agency Trndsttrs, which specializes in Generation Z, believes TikTok’s interest-based algorithm connects like-minded users more effectively than platforms based on personal contacts. TikTok also democratized content creation, making high-quality videos without filters or special equipment, thereby fostering more genuine connections between creators and followers.

Critics argue that TikTok, like other social media platforms, can be addictive and encourage unnecessary consumption. Some even claim it promotes harmful behaviors, such as younger viewers adopting skincare routines meant for older women. Despite these criticisms, TikTok has a loyal fan base hoping it will persist.

Casey Lewis, a New York-based trend analyst, noticed TikTok’s influence on fashion when videos about Birkenstock’s Boston clogs dominated her “For You” feed. The unexpected popularity of these once niche items highlights how TikTok trends can transform consumer perceptions seemingly overnight.

TikTok’s rapid trend cycles can be overwhelming. Styles like “Barbiecore” and “dadcore” emerged simultaneously, influencing spending in subtle yet significant ways. Even on a tight budget, recent college graduate Daniella López White found TikTok invaluable for discovering affordable fashion tips and boosting her confidence through plus-size content creators.

TikTok’s impact extends to the culinary world. The platform became a hub for home cooking during the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to its simple recipes and inventive food hacks. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay praised TikTok’s food community for its creativity.

TikTok revived interest in foods like cottage cheese. U.S. sales of cottage cheese soared as videos featuring it in innovative recipes amassed millions of views. Ben Sokolsky of Daisy Brand noted that social media has rekindled widespread interest in this once underappreciated product.

TikTok’s culinary trends also inspired offline following. For instance, Olivia Maher’s viral “girl dinner” post led to the creation of multiple cookbooks. However, not all food trends are safe; a 14-year-old Massachusetts boy died after trying a dangerous TikTok challenge involving an extremely spicy tortilla chip.

The beauty industry has also been transformed by TikTok. Ingredients quickly gain or lose favor based on viral videos, and users showcase their latest purchases or caution against certain products. TikTok influencers have popularized looks like faux freckles and the “clean girl” aesthetic.

Though some criticize TikTok for promoting excessive consumption, others credit the platform for pressuring brands to offer a broader range of skin tones and hair types. Influencer Tiffany Watson, with over 31,000 TikTok followers, believes the platform promotes a more inclusive beauty standard than other social media sites.

Source: Associated Press