What is ‘TikTok made me buy it’?

The app’s users are driving online purchases from cosmetics to home improvement items

2020 has been rough for most brands and people, but TikTok is the exception — the app had a better quarter during Q1 2020 than any app ever, with 315 million downloads.

While it’s hard to say when the “TikTok made me buy it” trend truly began, people with more time to scroll online and looking for ways to quell their boredom are prime targets. Users post recent purchases of products they’ve seen on the app, backed by popular “sounds” (music uploaded by other users) that showcase the items and how they work. Commenters typically requests links to products, and sometimes lament that the item is sold out.

The most popular products are related to skin care and makeup, crafting and home improvement. These purchasing trends make sense based on the last few months: People are finding ways to fill their time, whether it’s through self-care, redecorating their living spaces or picking up a new hobby.

Tapping into those trends, TikTok users have created content that have led to numerous “sell-out” scenarios from brands including e.l.f. Cosmetics, The Ordinary and Truly. Beauty novelty items such as a makeup sponge washing machine, makeup mini-fridges, vanity mirrors and ring lights are also popular.

Most highlighted purchases are relatively inexpensive, which could be due to most users being between the ages of 10 and 29 and lacking much disposable income, or people wanting to save money during the pandemic. Either way, the affordability likely increases the purchases and popularity of these items.

It’s not all inexpensive, aesthetically pleasing products, though. An upholstery cleaner is just one unexpected example. A multitude of TikTok videos show the Bissel Little Green Carpet Cleaner, often removing the toughest of stains and making upholstery look brand new again. The popularity of the carpet cleaner — and the pet version — has led it to be sold out in several places: One TikTok teen even claimed to request it for her birthday.


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The popularity of purchases on TikTok has led to accounts dedicated solely to products: @toponlinefinds began posting March 22 and has amassed over 1 million followers. The feed highlights themed videos such as “Office Must Haves” or “Cute Target Finds” and showcases items, with links to each item in the comments for easy access.

As TikTok continues increasing in popularity, app-inspired purchases are likely to continue. With summer around the corner and social distancing still in place in many states, purchases like inflatable canopy islands and tanning spray are already showing up in videos.