Do product searches really start on TikTok?

TikTok, the generational short video and live-stream shopping platform, supposedly took marketshare away from Amazon as it was the place where product searches started. The press has made this a data point to become a narrative of why TikTok is interested in e-commerce. We all know that discovery and social elements are not found on marketplaces such as Amazon or Walmart, but younger customers used TikTok to find new products, brands, or brands, or did they?

TikTok is a giant advertising business offering social media features such as short videos, lip-synching content, and live-stream shopping. In simple terms, no social media platform in the West has solved commerce - Meta, Instagram, and others have failed due to customers wanting lower funnel services such as logistics before buying goods vs. top of funnel advertising, which generates interest but requires a call to action to a third-party website currently. Using pixels to track advertising media differs significantly from enabling brands to sell to consumers on your platform. Who handles customer service, returns, etc?

Source: Insider Intelligence

The proportion of Gen Z users ages 18 to 24 that use TikTok to begin product searches fell to 11% in June 2023, down from 18% in 2022, per CivicScience.

The CivicScience study asked U.S. online shoppers: “When shopping for a product online, where do you typically start for product searches and research?” It compared 5,638 responses received between June 6 and 26 to 4,643 responses from August 2022.

The CivicScience study looked at over 10k responses from US adults. Is that a large enough audience to conclude from? Not sure but this study does create doubt whether TikTok is having a material impact on Amazon’s e-commerce search volumes.

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I personally think that people view Tiktok searches like they do Youtube searches.

These searches are DIFFERENT than Amazon searches. Tiktok, like Youtube, is ostensibly a place to find creators who provide more authentic reviews than Amazon. I do think at this point people know they can always search on Amazon, but there is a tons of clutter.

People are searching Youtube and Tiktok in my mind for curation.

What do you think?


I agree, YouTube/Tiktok used for a lot of validation/social proof that the item (or similar items) should be bought.

Some discovery as well (I have a specific need how have others solved it–the search term is the need not the product type).


I think we are so passive now in general. Search is mistaken for discovery. I went to Amazon today to see what deals they had. For the first 20 mins, I was just in mindless browse mode. Could not think of anything I wanted to search. I browsed loads that did not feel like search. But not unlike it either. Search is way more deliberate IMO

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