Where Will the TikTok Beauty Buyer Go?

Where Will the TikTok Beauty Buyer Go? featured image
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The fate of TikTok is uncertain. With less than a year to sell to a U.S. buyer or face a complete ban in the country, the culture-shaping app is probably scrambling behind the scenes to come up with a miracle. Meanwhile, app users are still going about their lives, shaping beauty trends and making serious bank in the TikTok Shop.

But if the app goes away, where will the approximately 148 million monthly unique TikTok users, and all their beauty influence, go?

Breaking research from Tinuiti reveals where beauty enthusiasts plan to migrate, and the answer might be a bit surprising.

Gen Z Expects to Move to Instagram

With X (formerly Twitter) still bleeding active users after Musk’s takeover and Snapchat experiencing a surprising revival in the past few years, the vast majority of users are expected to move to Meta-owned platforms. Gen Z leads the charge to Instagram at 47 percent of respondents, while older generations expect to return to scrolling Facebook if TikTok is banned from the U.S.

Youtube, which has been increasingly focusing on short-form content in order to compete with the Chinese-owned platform, comes in third.

Other, smaller apps also have the potential to explode in the event creators need to migrate to a new platform. And according to ABI research analyst, Lian Jye Su, “Most users will flock to where the content creators go next,” Su says to CNN. “Instagram, Snapchat, and Youtube Shorts stand to benefit the most as content creators will still prefer places where they can monetize their content.”

Will TikTok be Banned in the United States?

Contained in a bill assigning $95 million in war aid to the Ukraine, the provision that requires the sale of TikTok or else be banned in the U.S. was signed by President Joe Biden on March 17, 2024. It gives the app’s Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, 90 days to sell or face a total ban in the country, and ByteDance has promised to mount legal challenges to prevent the forced sale.

The bipartisan effort to ban TikTok stems from a fear of Chinese manipulation. Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, explains that the Chinese government influences “a lot of young people” who use TikTok as their main news source. “That’s a national security concern,” Rubio said.

Many lawmakers expect ByteDance to take the forced sale option. “I strongly doubt this app will go dark,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi told CNN during a primetime special about TikTok. He said a sale is most likely.

What happens to TikTok if it’s Banned?

With legal challenges ahead, the process to determine if TikTok will sell or be banned will probably take longer than a year. But if the result is the app getting the axe in America, that doesn’t mean the icon will disappear from your phone. According to reporting by ABC, what happens next has a lot to do with how much Google and Apple (the two biggest tech giants that provide app stores) are willing to help out.

Of course, as any young person exposed to a Youtube or podcast ad will tell you, there are also technological workarounds to a location-based ban. VPNs (virtual private networks) can easily mask your location and make your device appear to be operating in a place where TikTok is perfectly legal to have. And in the meantime, platforms continue to churn out short-form content to make the potential migration smoother.

But for the user, TikTok will likely continue to be the app of choice for beauty buyers up until it simply isn’t supported by Apple and Google. By then, who knows which platform will reign supreme.

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